Police Plea To DOJ: Take More Local Gun Cases To Federal Courts


Mayors and police chiefs of 20 cities met yesterday in Washington, D.C., for an anti-crime summit and to confront an unpleasant reality: Crime is rising for many, but stark budget realities are limiting the options in fighting it, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This really shows that the issues we are facing in St. Louis are issues facing the entire country,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “We have got the attention of the federal government in a big way. That is very helpful.” He conceded, “We didn't get any commitment to anything, specifically, other than they are listening, they want to be helpful, and that they are going to work with us.” A tighter federal-local collaborative relationship has begun in St. Louis, which has seen a 60 percent spike in murders this year. The Justice Department has started taking more gun cases, in part because federal gun laws are stricter than Missouri's. The Washington Post reports that in D.C., federal authorities are embedding FBI agents and others with detectives investigating crime scenes.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said a theme persisted: The availability of guns, and a law enforcement belief that local courts are too lenient on gun offenders. “We talked about the availability of guns, but also the outcomes of people that we arrest,” Dotson said. “It was clear whether you were in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago or St. Louis, nobody is seeing the outcomes in state court for gun crimes. So there was a plea, really, to the federal government to get more prosecutions in the federal courts. That is where we are asking for resources.” University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld said the reality of limited resources infused the room when references were made to the lower-crime effect that 100,000 federally funded police officers had in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. That was an era of a near-balanced budget. The federal government has run the debt to over $18 trillion.

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