- Associated Press - Saturday, January 25, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Some Springfield residents have raised concerns about a proposed agreement that would have the Missouri National Guard help the city’s police with drug enforcement.

Police Chief Paul Williams said the agreement called for one unarmed, military-trained information analyst with the guard working at a desk to help curtail drugs sales in Springfield. Williams has said the analyst’s salary would be paid by the guard.

Several citizens complained to the City Council at a meeting earlier this month that the planned partnership focused too much on marijuana instead of targeting more harmful drugs, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1aS44pb ). About 30 words have been since cut from the agreement, removing all references to marijuana-specific, counter-drug efforts.

Councilman Doug Burlison, however, said the changes would do little to ease his strong reservations about the agreement. He said the “marijuana aspect” of the agreement is “not nearly the most dangerous part of this.”

“If we were to receive a national guardsman simply to clean up the bathrooms at police headquarters, that is still too much mixing of police and military resources,” he said.

Other council members said they saw the partnership as more pragmatic.

Williams, who is expected to present the revised agreement at council meeting Monday, said the changes, if adopted, would have no meaningful impact on the partnership because marijuana was never meant to be the focus of the agreement.

Guard spokeswoman Major Tammy Spicer said Friday that the voluntary program in which guard members work with local law enforcement has been in place nationwide since 1989. She said currently the Missouri National Guard currently has about a dozen analysts working with police departments across Missouri. The program provides guard members with valuable “real world skills,” she said.

“This is the first time there’s ever been an issue,” Spicer said. “Typically the departments that we are supporting certainly appreciate the additional support they’re getting from the guard.”


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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