Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft met, July 26, with Nodaway County Sheriff Randy Strong and Nodaway County Prosecutor Caleb Phillips to discuss the needs of law enforcement.
The Nodaway County visit was part of Ashcroft’s tour of Northwest Missouri. He also visited the sheriffs in Andrew and Holt counties, the library in Atchison County and a newspaper in Platte County.
Ashcroft mentioned that there were eight counties in the state which had no one running for the prosecutor position. He said he was not a prosecutor but was trying to see what the peoples needs are, and that the rule of law has become a political issue.
He said truth in sentencing is needed. There are worries about housing inmates. Problems with mental health and drugs, concerns on the officers bill of rights were just some of the topics he wanted to cover in his fact finding visit.
Phillips said he has a great working relationship with the sheriff’s department, but his office does have broad scale problems. There are changes that have made the system more difficult, as there is not enough time and resources to keep up with crime as it comes up.
“I do my best to address the cases,” Phillips said.
A comment by Ashcroft about the attorney general bringing cases stated it was hard to determine if its for justice or for headlines.
Strong said there were problems with signature bonds where the person doesn’t show up for court. The person then is arrested out of state and the sheriff’s department has to pick up. Strong estimated the department had spent at least $10,000 last year. This is money that could be spent on other budgeted items.
On mental health, Strong said Nodaway County was better off than some locations with Mosaic Medical Center in Maryville. Strong has one of the only counties with a full staff. The jail staff has turnover and he has openings. The jail is now at half capacity.
Strong is working with the commissioners to send some of the part-time people to the MoWest Academy. Strong commented that he had a good working relationship with the commissioners. The county is in good financial shape with low unemployment.
Ashcroft remarked that the state is putting people on probation or parole every chance “they” get. This leads to putting people out on the street who will shortly re-offend. He thought Missouri should look at legislature to have inmates serve 85 percent of the sentence, although he felt the state should be careful with legislation.
Also, to have a more robust special prosecutor. He thought prosecutorial discretion is only appropriate on a case-by-case basis, not for a whole category of cases.
Another problem Ashcroft has considered is law enforcement not doing what is right for their county because of laws in place. He thinks the officer bill of rights was meant to be a good thing and shouldn’t be summarily dismissed, perhaps tweaked to work better with sheriffs departments.
Ashcroft visits each county in Missouri at least once each year.