St. Joseph police chief gives qualified approval to anti-crime measure

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

St. Joseph Police Chief Chris Connally expects an anti-crime
measure approved by the Missouri General Assembly to help in the fight against crime,
but says legislators might be overlooking a more effective method.

Connally understands why lawmakers focus on violent crime.
Still, he says an often-overlooked aspect of crime is the repeat offender, who
often is someone who commits property crimes.

“It’s been a trend across the country about wanting only violent
criminals to serve time,” Connally tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. “I’m
not saying jail is the right answer for everyone. Certainly, nationwide the
trend has not been as strong when dealing with repeat offenders.”

Connally understands it’s not popular these days to call for
those dealing in property crime to get prison time.

“Criminal justice is expensive, but whatever we do, whether it’s
in the jail or another aspect of it, it has to have strict accountability,
because if we don’t have strict accountability it becomes meaningless,”
Connally says.

Connally says if repeat offenders aren’t dealt with properly,
the cycle of criminal activity which might move from property crime to violent
crime, won’t be broken.

Connally says he understands why legislators hone in on
violent crime, but he suggests that if laws would target repeat offenders it
would have a real impact on the crime rate. He says police officers understand
the importance of accountability.

“When you’re dealing with the front end an awful lot, it
sometimes might make you a bit more cynical, but it also makes you a bigger stickler
on accountability.”

An anti-crime package sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer of
Parkville was passed by the General Assembly and sent to Gov. Mike Parson.

The bill has three main components. It enhances the crime of
Armed Criminal Action, filed against anyone using a firearm while committing a
felony. It makes it harder to get probation rather than prison. And, it bolsters
RICO and Conspiracy statutes to make it easier for prosecutors to use them
against gang violence.