(KMOV.com) – A new bill filed with Missouri legislators may lead to stronger punishments for drug dealers.
The bill, filed Tuesday by State Representative Jeff Roorda, would allow prosecutors to charge a dealer with manslaughter, if the dealer sells to someone who dies.
“This is a case where the criminal is engaging in an act they know could be deadly to their victim,” said Roorda.
While the plan sounds good on paper, a local police chief thinks enforcement will become a lot harder in practice.
“We know who the dealers are,” said Festus Police Chief Tim Lewis. “Proving who they are is a different story.”
Still, Lewis is willing to try any solution that may lead to less drug crimes. The chief said narcotics have been the community’s worst struggle, especially heroin.
“I think it’s our number one problem. Everything seems to be tied to drugs,” he said. “It’s so prevalent here and it’s so pure it’s just killing people right and left.”
24-year-old Leslie Cathey died of an overdose in October. Her mother said the punishment on dealers is far too lenient.
“They don’t think about the people who use it whose parents will bury them at a young age,” she said. “If they are arrested they get their hand slapped. “
The new bill could change that, even if Lewis thinks it will have wrinkles that need smoothing out.