Missouri Democrats unveil crime-fighting proposals
By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – House Democrats unveiled several proposals to fight crime in Missouri at a press conference Monday at the State Capitol; the centerpiece focuses on expanding the use of DNA evidence
Democratic Rep. John Burnett of Kansas City is sponsoring a bill that would allow the state's DNA database to include samples collected from suspects charged with felonies, but not yet convicted. He believes if passed it will withstand any legal challenges:
"I think that there's no constitutional barriers at all to what we're doing here today," says Burnett, "I think we're just catching up with the extent that other states already go to, to collecting."
Burnett's bill would also allow DNA to be collected from juveniles suspected of committing felonies. Other bills proposed by House Democrats include Erica's Law, which would expand First-degree Murder to the heinous killing of a child.
The Democrats have also included a bill that would provide local police with grants to buy GPS tracking devices designed to be used against fleeing suspects in high-speed chases.
Jeff Roorda of Jefferson County is sponsoring the legislation.
"You've probably seen news coverage of a police pursuit that's ended badly," says Roorda. "They sometimes have very dire consequences, not only law enforcement, but also for innocent bystanders."
Roorda says a tracking device could be fired as a projectile onto a fleeing vehicle, enabling police to follow it from a safe distance.