SWMO prosecutor makes argument for full time office

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BARTON COUNTY, Mo. — A Southwest Missouri prosecuting attorney is making the argument that his office should be full-time.

Mike Smalley is supposed to prosecute Barton County crime part time – but he says the citizens deserve more. And he’s trying to change that.

Mike Smalley – Barton County Prosecuting Attorney, said, “The people of this county deserve full-time law enforcement. You know the sheriffs office is full-time, the court is always open, our judges are full-time, it makes since that the prosecutor would be full-time.”

The 2018 census reports Barton County had a population of 11,798. But according to Smalley’s staff the size of the community shouldn’t dictate the time of their office

Margaret Phipps – Legal Secretary to the Prosecuting Attorney, said, “It should be a full-time office so that there is more time to take care of the cases that need to be charged and just be able to do more cases.”

In 2019 and 2020 Barton County filed approximately 2,700 felony, misdemeanor, and traffic charges as a part-time office. In the same years cedar county filed about 1,600 of these charges — And Vernon County with roughly 5,000 more residents rang in with around 3,100. Both are full-time offices.

“We’ve had more filings and more variety of cases that are being filed, but if we had full-time then we could do even more of that.”

Smalley has been collecting signatures to help make his office full-time.

“The procedure is the stat sheet allows the commission, the county commission can put the issue on the ballot, on their own motion, or if enough signatures are collected on a petition, they have to put it on the ballot,” said Smalley.

Smalley needs to collect 620 signatures from registered Barton County voters for the April 6th ballot.

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