Candidates for St. Louis circuit attorney have various plans for - KMOV.com

Candidates for St. Louis circuit attorney have various plans for dealing with crime

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St. Louis circuit attorney's office (Credit: KMOV) St. Louis circuit attorney's office (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The four candidates vying to be the next circuit attorney of St. Louis have various ideas they plan to implement if selected.

Mary Pat Carl wants to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer to look at hiring and promotion practices at the office. She also wants to make statistics on race of defendants, sentencing recommendations and acceptance into diversion programs easily available to the public.

“It’s a small population who are committing crimes and we need a laser like focus on those individuals and hold them accountable but we also need to invest in alternative sentencing programs,” Carl said.

When asked how she would ease tensions between law enforcement and the African American community, she issued the following statement:

To engender trust in the African American community, the Circuit Attorney’s Office must be accessible, open, and transparent. 

Last year, I led a program to have Assistant Circuit Attorneys respond to homicide scenes with the detectives. By establishing relationships with witnesses, from the very beginning of the criminal process, we have been extremely successful in increasing trust and therefore witness cooperation in homicide cases. In February, March, and May, we had a one hundred percent issue rate on homicides, which has been unheard of in this jurisdiction. It is easier to trust someone you know, than to trust a government agency. So, I have seen first hand the difference that can be made by being accessible to the community we serve. Trust is built on a person’s actions and by what is in a person’s heart. There is not a candidate in this race who has looked into the eyes of so many victims and their families, and worked as long as I have to achieve justice for them. I have never wavered from my passion to support my community, serve justice, support victims and ensure that the Constitutional rights of all people are respected and upheld.

To be as transparent as possible, I will make all the Circuit Attorney’s statistics on race of defendants, victims, sentencing recommendations, and acceptance into diversion programs, available to the public.  I believe strongly in Missouri’s Sunshine Law and in providing as much cooperation and information as legally possible to the community.

I will appoint a Chief Diversity Officer to increase diversity in recruiting and promotions, and examine the office for implicit bias. 

Steve Harmon wants to push the police department and city to provide officers with better training and more resources. He also wants to start “community based prosecutions,” which would allow residents to have input throughout the prosecution of crimes that happen in their neighborhoods.

“If I can’t prosecute you I can help you so what I am proposing to do well maybe you need a GED maybe you need a high school diploma maybe you need substance abuse maybe you need a positive role model in your life,” Harmon said.

When asked how he would ease tensions between law enforcement and the African American community, he issued the following statement:

As an African-American male and former Police Officer, I have personally experienced the tension between law enforcement and the African-American community from both sides. I am keenly aware of the distrust of law enforcement by many African-Americans. I have a young son and I, too, continually worry about his personal safety. 

As the next St. Louis Circuit Attorney I am committed to having an open and transparent interaction with the public and office staff, continually working in the community, as I have done for many years, partnering with community leaders, members of the clergy, community-based organizations, other governmental agencies, and citizens to tackle the issues of crime that impact the African-American community the most. In addition, I will reach out to the community through my platform initiative, “Community-Based Prosecution” and have citizens from the community regularly provide their ideas, thoughts, concerns, and criticisms to me and my senior staff.

As a former police commander, I know exactly what good police service should look like and I have seen the opposite as well.  As Circuit Attorney, my office will no longer prosecute cases based on unethical or unlawful police work.  I will advocate to the Police Department for better training and resources for officers when cases of poor and ineffectual police work prevent my office from successfully serving justice to all.

Implementing these things will help to ease the tension between law enforcement and the black community.  Therefore, I want the public to know that I will work hard to ease this tension, gain their trust as well as their respect on a daily basis.  Bottom line is I will do whatever I can to ensure that justice is served appropriately in all cases, and Law violators will be subjected to swift, certain and fair prosecution because the public deserves nothing less.

Patrick Hamacher told News 4 he would hire a community liaison to help bridge the gap. He said he also wants a special prosecutor to handle officer-involved shootings.

“That is going after the most violent individuals and being aggressive a prosecuting them in order to do so we need to have good prosecutors and good relationships with not only with the police department but in the community as well,” Hamacher said.

When asked how he would ease tensions between law enforcement and the African American community, he issued the following statement:

As your next Circuit Attorney, I intend to be a leader that brings people together.  We need to recognize that there is a distrust between law enforcement and communities of color.  There are racial disparities that exist within the criminal justice system and these disparities have created a lack of trust in the system.  We also must recognize that the vast majority of law enforcement officers in our community are good people, trying to help keep our community safe.  We need a Circuit Attorney with the leadership, vision, and relationships to bring these groups together.  Garnering the support of the Ethical Society of Police, the African-American police organization, is evidence that I have this ability. 

St. Louis is at a critical crossroads.  We need to start having uncomfortable conversations and start working towards progress.  It is not a time for picking sides, but rather, recognizing that we all want something better.  Calling for special prosecutors in officer involved shootings, decriminalizing the misdemeanor possession of marijuana, adding a community liaison position, expanding diversionary programs, and implementing Focused Deterrence are all ways I will advocate on an institutional level to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the community.  

State Representative Kim Gardner said she won’t shy away from talking about the negative history between law enforcement and some people in the community. She will also make sure no one is above the law, regardless of their job.

“People have things that they are dealing with and issues that they are dealing with that drives them to the criminal justice system and we need to help divert them and give them resources so that is not the option,” said Gardner.

When asked how she would ease tensions between law enforcement and the African American community, she issued the following statement:

The Circuit Attorney is in a unique position to address the tensions that exist between the African-American community and law enforcement.  There is a massive void of trust between both communities that is rooted in decades of a negative history. A Circuit Attorney that pursues justice fairly, expeditiously, and consistently against those who choose to break our laws, no matter their occupation or station in life, is the first necessary step in establishing public trust.  This is essential to address and help ease the tensions that we have seen between law enforcement and the African American community.

Voters will be able to pick St. Louis’ next circuit attorney when the polls open on August 2.

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