State Capital Bureau
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House gave initial approval to a bill that would authorize law enforcement officials to hold individuals up to 30 hours without charge, for crimes from jay walking to murder.
Missouri's current holding cap is 20 hours, which some officials say is not enough time.
"There are times when 20 hours is difficult," said Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm.
Although the cap is not routinely a problem, there are occasions where officers have trouble finishing their paperwork in the allotted time frame. Once an officer arrests someone, the officer must file a report and send it to the prosecutor.
Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane says he "would be glad for any extension."
Crane says there are instances when multiple people are under arrest for one crime--and each person places blame on someone else. Then, in the "19th hour, one will confess."
The new time limit would allow officials more time to collect evidence and ensure the correct individual is charged with the proper crime.
However, Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm, is opposed to such a time limit, because it would apply to any offense, no matter how minor.
Sheriff Boehm says he approves of the cap for violent crimes but does "not understand the justification for all crimes."
"That would be a disservice to our liberties," he added.
Rep. Vicki Walker, D-Kansas City, agrees that citizen's rights must be considered.
"As a democracy, we have to balance civil liberties and rights of the individual with rights of the whole."
Walker questions the power of law enforcement officials to hold someone without charge.
"The fact that they can't get their work done in 20 hours...is not a good enough reason to keep somebody without charging them."