JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Under Missouri law, running from law enforcement is a misdemeanor and a state representative is hoping to change that.
Representative Jeff Shawn wants suspects in high-speed chases to face a felony-level charge.
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge is suspects charged with a misdemeanor could receive a fine or a county jail sentence, but a felony charge could put a suspect in state prison.
Rep. Shawn says Missouri has a long history of high-speed pursuits.
“All we’re trying to do is create a pushback, create a deterrent, and help a perpetrator to understand there’s gonna be more severe consequences if they elude the police,” Shawn said.
One of which happened in Jackson, Missouri in 1998 when his then 22-year-old cousin Meredith Adams died from a head-on collision.
In a high-speed chase here in Springfield last August, three people died in a four-car accident on Glenstone and Kearney.
Shawn says his bill intends to prevent deaths like these from happening.
Willard police chief Tom McClain says if this bill passes, it might do just that.
“I would imagine that in the mind of a person with decent judgment that would be an incentive for him to not attempt to elude a police officer,” said McClain
Shawn says the less high-speed chases there are, the less likely people are to get hurt.
Less than a month ago here in Springfield, Tommy Morris junior was convicted of second-degree murder.
He killed a 31-year-old mother in a 2018 high-speed chase.
The Missouri House is considering Shawn’s bill, but they haven’t voted on it yet.