Missouri lawmaker looking to up punishment for running from police

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri lawmaker wants to change the punishment if you run from the police — from a misdemeanor to a felony.

That means a high speed chase could lead to prison time.

Rep. Jeff Shawan, District 153, R-Poplar Bluff, said, “Meredith Adams was her name, was just weeks away from being married, had died in a head-on collision, so I understand the pain of this very unnecessary death.”

Which is why Representative Jeff Shawan proposed a bill in a public hearing on Monday.

“What it does is, if they engage in a high-speed chase, that’s a terrible public safety issue, it makes it a felony for them to do that. And so, if they cause an accident the felony goes up a step. All we’re trying to do is create a deterrent and help a perpetrator to understand there’s gonna be more severe consequences if they elude the police.”

It’s a bill Willard Police Chief Tom McClain supports.

Chief Tom McClain, Willard Police Department, said, “I would imagine that in the mind of a person with decent judgement that would be an incentive for him to not attempt to elude a police officer.”

McClain has seen many chases in his 26 years on the job.

“I’ve been involved as an assisting agency, a number of times, where we have either deployed spike strips or attempted to deploy spike strips for agencies coming through the Willard community.”

It’s one of the biggest challenges he’s ever faced in his career.

“Not the kind of thing that you would want to be involved in on a regular basis. The higher the risk, the more likely the outcome is gonna be tragic.”

He says the crime matches Representative Shawn’s proposed changes.

“If in fact, they are stopped and held accountable for the crime, then they’re gonna pay a much higher price than they would pay presently.”

The Missouri House is considering Shawn’s bill, but they haven’t voted on it yet. Shawn says he has high expectations it will pass.

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