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Police Chief Dotson Confronts Judge Over Court Leniency

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Sam Dotson
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Chief Sam Dotson tells a very personal story of a recent talk with a judge. The topic: crime, punishment and probation.

“I’m not going to tell you who this judge is but I was at a meeting and the judge said…well you know my staff is overworked and I don’t know if we can handle much more volume. I said, well thats great judge. I’ll go to a neighborhood meeting and I’ll tell the people, hey we arrested 31,000 people last year. I can’t arrest 32,000 because the courts can’t handle them.” Chief Dotson told KMOX’s Mark Reardon.

Chief Dotson, Mayor Slay and Prosecutor Jennifer Joyce and others continue to call for an armed offender docket. The chief said in outstate Missouri a first time offender often gets jail time. He said in St. Louis it’s more often probation and rehabilitation.

The chief also told Mark Reardon he likes the court watch program, where neighbors show up in court to send a message to the judge not to give leniency .

The chief wants to strengthen that program in all parts of the city and is assigning a sergeant to manage the program. Dotson said he feels there is a bias among judges toward rehabilitation.

St. Louis Alderwoman Jennifer Florida was also interviewed on the topic. She said it seems like the system is broken. Florida feels judges give too much probation over jail time.

“I think they look at this person and he’s all cleaned up and they’d like to believe that this person could turn their lives around.” Florida told Mark Reardon. She is also a big supporter of so-called ‘court watch’ groups, who sit-in on trials involving criminals in their neighborhoods.

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