Don’t Respond to Letter from MSA President David Parrish

If you received an email recently from Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, don’t respond!

It’s a hoax.

The email states:

Hello (Recipient),

Are you available to assist? I am out of the State now and I’ve got credence in you to take care of this.I would have called your phone but I presently do not have access to my mobile phone.
Missouri Sheriffs’ Association needs some gift cards for donation to Veterans at Hospice and Palliative care units for preventive items against Corona Disease( COVID 19).
 

I have decided to make it a personal duty. I will be responsible for the reimbursement.

 

David Parrish

President
 
The sending email address shows up as ref_pres@jobkonsult.info. 
 
MSA Executive Director Kevin Merritt said recipients should delete the email without responding.

Missouri Supreme Court Responds to the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic

​​On March 13, 2020, national and state emergencies were declared following the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic.  In response, the Supreme Court of Missouri announces the implementation of the following precautionary measures to combat the spread of the disease to the public and the employees of the Missouri judiciary.

The courts of the State of Missouri shall remain open.  Nevertheless, pursuant to this Court’s constitutional authority to supervise the administration of the state judicial system, see Mo. Const. art. V, §§ 4.1, 8, the Supreme Court of Missouri hereby suspends all in-person proceedings in all appellate and circuit courts – including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal, and probate divisions.  The suspension will last from Tuesday, March 17, 2020, through Friday, April 3, 2020, and may be extended by order of this Court as circumstances may warrant.

The suspension of in-person proceedings is subject to the following exceptions:

Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants and juveniles;
Proceedings in which civil or criminal jury trials are already in progress as of March 16, 2020;
Proceedings pursuant to chapter 455 pertaining to orders of protection;
Proceedings related to emergency child custody orders;
Proceedings related to petitions for temporary restraining orders or other forms of temporary injunctive relief;
Proceedings related to emergency mental health orders;
Proceedings pursuant to Chapter 475 for emergency guardianship or conservatorship;
Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
Oral arguments regarding time-sensitive matters; and
Other exceptions approved by the Chief Justice of this Court.

The presiding judge of each circuit court and the chief judges of each appellate court are authorized to determine the manner in which the listed in-person exceptions are to be conducted.  Any proceedings conducted in-person shall be limited to the attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, and other individuals necessary to the proceedings as determined by the judge presiding over the proceedings.  The judge presiding over such proceedings has the discretion to exercise his or her discretion in excusing jurors or other individuals that cannot or should not appear as a result of risks associated with COVID-19.

All judges and court clerks are encouraged to utilize all available technologies – including e-mail, teleconferencing, and video conferencing – to further limit in-person courtroom appearances.  Any local, criminal, or civil rules that would impede a court clerk or judge’s ability to utilize such technologies are hereby suspended until April 3, 2020, and may be extended by order of this Court as circumstances may warrant.

This order does not affect a court’s ability to consider or rule on any matter that does not require an in-person court proceeding.  Likewise, this order does not affect any required filing deadlines through Missouri’s e-filing system.  During the suspension, each circuit and appellate court should consider adopting measures for ensuring timely filing by pro se litigants that lack access to Missouri’s e-filing system.

Despite the suspension of in-person court proceedings, Missouri courts still must continue to carry out the core, constitutional functions of the Missouri judiciary as prescribed by law and continue to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress in any Missouri court. Each courthouse should work with local law enforcement and county agencies to ensure that, to the extent possible, courthouses remain accessible to carry out essential constitutional functions and time-sensitive proceedings.  

If it becomes necessary to close any courthouse during the suspension period, the courthouse shall develop procedures for ensuring the court remains accessible by telephone and e-mail to the extent possible during regular business hours.  The Supreme Court of Missouri should be notified immediately of the closing of any courthouse, and notice of such closings should be disseminated to the local media and posted on the courthouse doors.

Furthermore, for the health and safety of its employees, each court is instructed to post an order to the courthouse doors prohibiting access to the premises for individuals that have been exposed to or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.  The posting should list necessary contact information for individuals not authorized to enter the premises to have remote access to the administration of justice.  Attached to this order is a recommended order for posting at each court.  The order should contain the same substantive information but should be modified to include local contact information.  

Additionally, any non-essential travel by judicial employees for work-related functions is hereby suspended.  This includes travel for purposes of participating in Supreme Court committee meetings.  If possible, such meetings should be conducted by teleconferencing or rescheduled to a later date.

This order is intended to be interpreted broadly for protection of the public from the risks associated with COVID-19.  

Missouri Postpones April 7 Municipal Elections

Missouri’s municipal elections slated for April 7 have been postponed a month.

Gov. Mike Parson today signed an executive order rescheduling the elections for June 2, according to a news release from his office. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft requested the delay in response to the governor’s earlier state of emergency declaration concerning the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The new executive order declares that ballots already printed for the April 7 election may be used at the postponed date of June 2. Voters who have attained the age of 18 by April 7 will be allowed to cast a ballot.

“Given the growing concern surrounding COVID-19 and the large number of people elections attract, postponing Missouri’s municipal elections is a necessary step to help combat the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of Missouri voters,” Parson stated. “Postponing an election is not easy, but we are all in this together.”

“I deeply appreciate Gov. Parson’s quick approval and am thankful to the local election authorities your county clerks and boards of election who have worked through developing health concerns to find a unified and secure means of implementing our next election,” stated Ashcroft. “Missouri has 116 separate election authorities, almost all who are elected in their own right, and we have come together to help protect Missouri voters. These are difficult times, but I am grateful for how we have responded, worked together and come to a resolution that helps every single Missouri voter.”

According to the news release, Section 44.100, RSMo, provides that during a state of emergency, the governor is authorized to “waive or suspend the operation of any statutory requirement or administrative rule prescribing procedures for conducting state business, where strict compliance with such requirements and rules would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action by the department of health and senior services to respond to a declared emergency or increased health threat to the population.”

The executive order requires local election authorities to publish notice of the new election date. In addition, it states:

  • The closing date to register to vote in this election remains March 11.
  • The deadline for filing as a write-in candidate for office remains March 27 at 5 p.m.
  • The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot shall be May 20.
  • A public test of voting equipment shall be completed no later than June 1.
  • In-person absentee ballots may be cast until 5 p.m. on June 1.
  • The deadline by which absentee ballots must be received by the election authority shall be 7 p.m. on June 2.
  • Military and overseas voters must request a ballot from an election authority by 5 p.m. on May 29, and the deadline for local election authorities to make ballots available to such voters is April 18. Military and overseas ballots must be received by the election authority by June 5.

Local election authorities are also directed to post information on their website, use social media if available, issue press release, conduct public appearances, and directly contact stakeholders such as candidates.

 Story and photo by the News Tribune

Sheriffs Carry the Concerns of their Citizens to the Capitol

Fifty-some sheriffs visited the state capitol March 12 to remind lawmakers that the challenges facing the sheriffs are real, that something needs to be done and that they need legislators’ help to make the needed changes.

​​Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, the president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, told the group of legislators and media representatives gathered in the House of Representatives Lounge that 2019 may go down in history as one of the worst years for sheriffs who are attempting to enforce the rule of law and protect the local law-abiding tax payers they serve.

“Sheriffs have been concerned many years – 2019 was just the culmination that the justice system has become too offender-centered. Some well-intentioned people have become too focused on those committing the crimes while not necessarily focusing on the neighborhoods they are affecting and the victims the sheriffs are committed to fighting for,” he said.

Sheriff Parrish summarized some of the challenges they’re facing:

▪ In March, 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that board bills should not be considered court costs – even though that had been the practice for 100 years.

▪ The Missouri Bond Reform, which was ordered December 2018 and became effective July 1, 2019, prohibits judges from keeping defendants in jail if they can’t afford bail. Instead, those defendants, many of whom are “career criminals,” are to be released on their own signature with only a ticket, which, according to sheriffs, allows them to continue to victimize their communities.

▪ State statute requires sheriffs to accept prisoners or face a misdemeanor, and the state is to reimburse counties $22.58 per day for holding those prisoners. However, Missouri is falling further and further behind in paying the jail per diems. As of December 2019, the state owed counties – and ultimately county taxpayers – an estimated $33.4 million.

▪ Sheriffs are at odds with the Missouri Department of Corrections because those sheriffs believe once an offender is sentenced to prison, he or she should not on Day 1 be considered for conditional early release. In many cases, inmates are serving one to three months per year sentenced.

Sheriff Parrish said they hear too often “’What is wrong with society?’ and ‘Why doesn’t society do more for the career criminal?’ We say they can’t afford court costs, we say they can’t afford the board bill, we say they can’t be in jail very long instead of just reminding ourselves that there’s a very simple way – a very simple way – to not have to do those things. Don’t violate the law. I know our constituents believe that if someone does violate the law, we should be firm and fair but also hold them accountable.”

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson went into more detail about jail per diems.

“We, as sheriffs, hear from our citizens every day about how we are handling our budgets – their tax dollars,” she said, reminding those present that their citizens, their constituents, their voters were the same citizens, constituents and voters that the legislators represent. “And they want to know how you are handling their tax dollars. When the state does not pay its bills, it affects not only the sheriffs but the citizens in the lost revenues to our communities.”

Sheriff Dickerson explained that although the rate has fluctuated over the years, since 1976, the state, under Missouri Statute 221.105 has paid per diem for all inmates housed in county jails.

“The state acknowledges that their daily cost for handling inmates is $65 a day. The state allows its own employees a per diem for meals of $34 a day. But the per diem of inmates is just $22.58. The state is also using local jails to hold parole offenders. It used to be that if someone violated their parole, they immediately went back to the Department of Corrections. Today those offenders are staying in the county jails waiting on hearings, waiting on the steps the Department of Corrections will take many times to be released back into the community without any further sentencing or time.”

Sheriff Dickerson also said 1996 was the last time the Missouri legislature and the governor’s office officially recognized that public safety is a partnership between the local, county and state government. Since that time, funding has been directed at other programs, causing the arrearage to grow. She produced a study conducted in 2010 by the National Association of Counties refuting DOC statements that Missouri is the only state that charges room and board. Instead, although different formulas are used, every state pays per diem. She also said a 2015 program evaluation of county per diem payments completed by the DOC showed they had studied the issue, although its officials claimed otherwise.

“The state funding must be appropriated to pay the bills owed by the state and the per diem should be the responsibility of the state,” she said.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott spoke next, discussing concerns about the direction taken by the DOC and the Division of Probation and Parole.

“Probation issues are a continued failure from the top of this organization. Our local P&P officers’ hands are being tied by not being able to recommend revocation. I talked to our circuit judge about three hours ago. He told me he sees offenders with 15 to 20 violations with no recommendation for revocation from Probation and Parole. We have proof that offenders are going to the P&P office, taking urine tests, showing positive for methamphetamine, then they simply walk out the door, get into a vehicle and drive off. This is a public safety issue. This puts Missouri’s citizens’ lives in danger every day,” he said, reiterating that those scenarios were not the fault of the P&P officer but rather from leadership in the DOC.

Sheriff Arnott also criticized the practice of rewarding parolees with gift cards for showing up on time at appointments.

“This is ridiculous! Do you know what the reward is? Not being locked up in jail and not going to prison. This philosophy has to change. If we want to hand out gift cards, let’s give them to Missourians who have been victimized – not criminals. We must remember that our entire justice system is based around taking care of victims. We want our message to be clear. Missouri’s sheriffs will continue to be vigilant and tough on crime but legislators, we need your assistance to change the philosophy of this department,” he said.

Johnson County Sheriff Scott Munsterman addressed the group next, talking about bond reform.

“In the reform, they labeled drugs and drug offenders as ‘non-violent crime.’ I disagree. Drug offenders are not only a danger to themselves, they are also a danger to the communities we represent. During investigations of crimes in our communities, we’re dealing with drug offenders every day and see that they’re tied in with burglaries, car larcenies, and simple property crimes. Drug offenders are utilizing citizens’ assets to help supplement their addiction,” he said, adding that although they arrest the offenders, reforms require sheriffs to simply issue a summons to appear in court and then release them back into the community where they continue to reoffend.

And individuals are not following through and showing up in court. Sheriff Munsterman said since the new rules went into effect, the failure to appear rate in Johnson County has increased 28 percent. In neighboring Cass County, that number jumped 48 percent.

He closed by sharing a statement from a friend that “non-violent” does not mean “non-dangerous,” stressing that those who were breaking into cars and homes to steal and supplement their drug addictions were dangerous and needed to be behind bars.

“To sum up, we are here to protect the local law-abiding tax payer,” Sheriff Parrish said, adding that sheriffs recognize and respect those who are assisting offenders in becoming better citizens. “But the pendulum has swung too far. It’s very simple to not have to follow any guidelines. Follow the law.”
 
By Nancy Zoellner

Justice Department Cautions Business Community Against Violating Antitrust Laws in the Manufacturing, Distribution, and Sale of Public Health Products

The Department of Justice today announced its intention to hold accountable anyone who violates the antitrust laws of the United States in connection with the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of public health products such as face masks, respirators, and diagnostics.  The department’s announcement is part of a broader administration effort to ensure that federal, state, and local health authorities, the private healthcare sector, and the public at large are in the strongest possible position to respond to the outbreak of the respiratory disease named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “I am committed to ensuring that the department’s resources are available to combat any wrongdoing and protect the public.”

Individuals or companies that fix prices or rig bids for personal health protection equipment such as sterile gloves and face masks could face criminal prosecution.  Competitors who agree to allocate among themselves consumers of public health products could also be prosecuted.  The department’s recently announced Procurement Collusion Strike Force will also be on high alert for collusive practices in the sale of such products to federal, state, and local agencies.

Anyone with information on price fixing, bid-rigging, market allocation schemes, or other anti-competitive conduct should call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.

DOJ Charges Unprecedented Number of Elder Fraud Defendants Nationwide and Launches Hotline

Attorney General William P. Barr, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, and Chief Postal Inspector Gary R. Barksdale today announced the largest coordinated sweep of elder fraud cases in history.  This year, prosecutors charged more than 400 defendants, far surpassing the 260 defendants charged in cases as part of last year’s sweep.  In each case, offenders allegedly engaged in financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors.  In total, the charged elder fraud schemes caused alleged losses of over a billion dollars.

Attorney General Barr made the announcement at an event in Florida entitled “Keeping Seniors Safe,” which outlined his vision for protecting older Americans from financial harm.  The event focused special attention on the threat posed by foreign-based fraud schemes that victimize seniors in large numbers.  During the event, the Attorney General declared “Prevention and Disruption of Transnational Elder Fraud” to be an Agency Priority Goal, making it one of the Department’s four top priorities.

“Americans are fed up with the constant barrage of scams that maliciously target the elderly and other vulnerable citizens,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “This year, the Department of Justice prosecuted more than 400 defendants, whose schemes totaled more than a billion dollars.  I want to thank the men and women of the department’s Consumer Protection Branch, which coordinated this effort, and all those in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Criminal Division who worked tirelessly to bring these cases.  The department is committed to stopping the full range of criminal activities that exploit America’s seniors.”

“The charges announced today demonstrate the great success of the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force to identify and stop those who are targeting our senior communities from overseas,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.  “We’re committed to continuing our efforts to keep our elderly citizens safe, whether they’re being targeted door-to-door, over the phone, or online.”

“Every day, American consumers, particularly older Americans, receive offers that sound just too good to be true,” said Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale.  “Some come through the mail; others by telephone or the Internet.  These offers have one objective – to rob you of your hard-earned money.  Fraud costs Americans millions of dollars each year.  The good news is most frauds can be prevented.  It’s one of the few crimes in which potential victims can just say “No!”  So hold on to your money and report scams to Postal Inspectors.”

This interactive map provides state by state information on the elder fraud cases and education and prevention community outreach efforts highlighted by today’s sweep announcement.  

ELDER FRAUD HOTLINE

Attorney General Barr also announced the launch of a National Elder Fraud Hotline, which will provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud.  The Hotline will be staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers.  Case managers will assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed.  When applicable, case managers will complete a complaint form with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for Internet-facilitated crimes and submit a consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the caller.  The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).

TRANSNATIONAL ELDER FRAUD STRIKE FORCE

The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force prosecuted more than one quarter of the defendants charged as part of the announced sweep.  Established in June 2019, the Strike Force is composed of the department’s Consumer Protection Branch and six U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (Central District of California, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Eastern District of New York, Southern District of Texas), along with FBI special agents, Postal Inspectors, and numerous other law enforcement personnel.  Prosecutors in Strike Force districts brought cases against more than 140 sweep defendants.  FBI and the Postal Inspection Service served as lead agencies in the Strike Force and committed substantial investigative resources to pursuing elder fraud cases as part of Strike Force efforts.  The Strike Force has held dozens of meetings with industry, victim groups, and law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels to identify the most harmful schemes victimizing American seniors and to bolster preventive measures against further losses.  

LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS SWEPT FROM COAST TO COAST

U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in every federal district took part in the Elder Fraud Sweep announced today.  Many federal prosecuting offices filed cases against perpetrators and/or facilitators of elder fraud.  Others conducted outreach to law enforcement, community groups, seniors, or private industry.  Other U.S. Attorneys’ Offices demonstrated exceptional devotion to the cause of elder justice by both filing cases and conducting outreach.

For the second year, the Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners also took comprehensive action against the money mule network that facilitates foreign-based elder fraud.  Generally, perpetrators use a “money mule” to transfer fraud proceeds from a victim to ringleaders of fraud schemes who often reside in other countries.  Some of these money mules act unwittingly, and intervention can effectively end their involvement in the fraud.  The FBI and the Postal Inspection Service took action against over 600 alleged money mules nationwide by conducting interviews, issuing warning letters, and bringing civil and criminal cases.  Agents and prosecutors in more than 85 federal district participated in this effort to halt the money flow from victim to fraudster.  These actions against money mules were in addition to the criminal and civil cases announced as part of this year’s elder fraud sweep.

In addition to announcing the sweep cases, Attorney General Barr and others at the Keeping Seniors Safe event also thanked department personnel — especially the Elder Justice Coordinators app​​ointed in each U.S. Attorney’s Office — for conducting dozens of outreach events across the nation to warn seniors of fraud schemes and to engage with industry representatives and state and local authorities on fraud-prevention measures.  These outreach efforts have helped to prevent seniors from falling prey to scams and have frustrated offenders’ efforts to obtain even more money from vulnerable elders.

The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Youth Seat Belt Enforcement Campaign Kicks Off Soon

Seat Belt Check!

Going somewhere? Make sure you’re buckled up and hold others accountable to buckle up as well. Every trip. Every time.

Law enforcement will be cracking down on unbelted drivers during this campaign March 15 – 31.

Under the Graduated Driver License Law, teens from age 15-18 are required to wear their seat belt and it’s a primary offense if they don’t, meaning they can be pulled over solely for not wearing their seat belt.

Based on the 2018 seat belt survey, teen use in Missouri is only 74 percent, much lower than state (87 percent) and national (91 percent) seat belt use.

Missouri has seven schools with a seat belt usage rate of 50 percent or less and 30 schools with a rate of 60 percent or less.

STATS

100 Percent of teen impaired drivers killed in 2017 were unbuckled.

688 Teens were killed or seriously injured in crashes in 2017.

42 Percent – The amount a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury.

70 Percent of teen vehicle occupant fatalities were unbuckled in 2017.

Three schools from the Missouri Coalition for Safety Central District were recently given awards for their exceptional participation in the “It Only Takes One campaign. Eugene High School and Calvary Lutheran High School had 100% Buckle Up participation from staff and students and Iberia High School had over 95% Buckled Up. Each school participated in Safety Belt checks unknown to those coming into the lots more than twice during the campaign. Each school received a Certificate of Completion, a $500 Safety Grant and a Banner to proudly hang in their gym.

Missouri High Court Weighs Life Sentences for Older Teens

Missouri Supreme Court​

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against mandatory life sentences for juveniles should also apply to older teenagers, a Missouri man imprisoned for killing his grandparents at age 19 argued to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

David Barnett, a suburban St. Louis man who now is 43, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 murders.

His public defender, Rosemary Percival, told Missouri Supreme Court judges during arguments that Barnett had poor impulse control because his brain was still developing at that time.

She said if a judge or jury was able to weigh his age, the “horrific” physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child and other factors, they would give him a less harsh sentence.

“At the stroke of midnight on the defendant’s 18th birthday, life without parole becomes mandatory with no consideration of the defendant’s character or circumstances,” she told judges. “There’s no middle ground.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that teens should be treated differently to adult offenders at sentencing because they’re less mature, prone to manipulation and capable of change. The court found that all but the rare juvenile lifer whose crime reflects “permanent incorrigibility” should have a chance to argue for freedom one day.

Percival told Missouri Supreme Court judges that the same arguments apply to older teenagers.

“The understanding of adolescent development is that nothing magical happens on one’s 18th birthday,” said Josh Rovner, a senior advocacy associate at The Sentencing Project. “So there’s been a great deal of discussion about the proper response to 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds and even older.”

The Sentencing Project is a Washington-based nonprofit that opposes sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

Missouri is one of just five states — along with Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas — that begins adult court jurisdiction at age 17 rather than 18.

But Missouri and Michigan have enacted laws that will raise the adult court age to 18 starting in 2021. Missouri’s law is contingent on the Legislature appropriating money to provide the expanded juvenile services.

The issue of when teenagers and young adults should have a chance to argue for leniency based on their age could ultimately fall to Missouri lawmakers. Several Missouri Supreme Court judges on Wednesday questioned whether it’s their role to overturn mandatory life sentences for older teens, or if it’s up to the state Legislature to change the law.

Judge Laura Denvir Stith told Barnett’s attorney that she made sound arguments on changing the policy, but asked: “Is it unconstitutional, as opposed to a policy?”

An attorney for the state argued that it should be left to the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the age cutoff for mandatory sentences.

Judges did not indicate when they might rule.​​

By Summer Ballentine | Associated Press /News Tribune

Associated Press writer David A. Lieb contributed to this report.

Auditor Galloway Pursues Answers for Missourians about Offender Giveaways

Taxpayers and law enforcement deserve information on funding of Department of Corrections’ rewards program for offenders

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today said her office is demanding answers from the Missouri Department of Corrections on concerns related to the Missouri Offender Management Matrix. The program provides incentives to offenders who are on probation and parole.

Local law enforcement and taxpayers have expressed repeated concerns related to this program and how incentives such as gift cards, vouchers and passes to local attractions are being funded. Multiple media outlets have reported on the issue and the Department has failed to adequately answer these inquiries and explain details of this program.      

“As the state’s independent watchdog, I want answers to basic questions about this program’s funding sources and operations,” Auditor Galloway said. “Taxpayers and local law enforcement deserve to know about the cost of handing out these incentives to offenders. To date, the Department of Corrections has been unable or unwilling to be fully transparent with Missourians.”

The State Auditor’s Office is requesting information on the funding source of the program, the total numbers of incentives disbursed to date, the system for monitoring and tracking incentives, and the amount of taxpayer-funded staff time required for administering the program.  

Read the complete letter here.

Meth Labs Down in Missouri, Meth Smuggling is Up

A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement. (File)



A recent Associated Press report said although there has been a consistent decline in meth production in Missouri, the smuggling of the drug from Mexico has increased leaving federal and local agencies struggling to contain the movement.

Sheriff Chris Heitman with the Maries County Sheriff’s Office said his office personally has seen the decrease in mid-Missouri m​​eth labs but an increase in drug trafficking.

“Thank God meth labs have went down because when I first started in Maries county, we had 19 meth labs and for a small rural county that s a lot of meth labs when we first took over and that was back in 2009,” Heitman said. “We didn’t have any meth labs last year. We need more officers on the street to help intercept a lot of that drug trafficking that’s going on now.”

As sheriff of a rural county, Heitman said there are challenges that come with needing more manpower to tackle new issues.

“Rural counties you know, we don’t have the funding that these larger counties have,” Heitman said. “Every time we have another task to take on, that’s less time we get to focus on our victim crimes, which is our top priority.”

Heitman attributes The decrease in meth labs to productive changed made by law enforcement and elected officials.

“I contribute that a lot to lawmakers changing the Sudafed law and things of that nature that made it hard for cooks to get the products they need to manufacture,” Heitman said.

Though the decrease in locally produced meth is making it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on the deadly drug, the trafficking from South America, and mainly Mexico, has federal and local law enforcement working overtime.

“It is a lot harder for them now,” Heitman said. “There’s no question law enforcement is taking a great stance in reducing the amount of drug trafficking going on.”

According to the Associated Press, Thursday the DEA announced a methamphetamine crackdown called Operation Crystal Shield, which will focus on eight “transportation hubs” where high levels of Mexican meth are being seized. The St. Louis Division, which covers all of Missouri and Kansas as well as southern Illinois, is the northernmost of the eight targeted areas.
 
​By Gladys Bautista​ | KRCG​