BUT FELONIES SHOW SLIGHT DROP
The number of felonies–which are the more serious crimes–has declined.
But the less serious crimes–misdemeanors–are on the rise in Platte County, with prosecutors saying they filed 22% more misdemeanors in 2022 than in 2021.
Mark Gibson, first assistant prosecuting attorney for Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, addressed the Platte County Commission on behalf of Zahnd’s office at a recent commission meeting.
“Platte County is the fastest-growing county in Missouri,” Gibson said. “That means many good things, but it also means more crime.”
Pursuant to Missouri law, Zahnd’s office reports the number of cases filed each year to the county commission. For the 12 months ending October 31, 2022, his office filed 729 felonies and 12,612 misdemeanors.
While the number of felonies was slightly lower in 2022 compared to 2021, the number of misdemeanors increased by 22%.
Gibson pointed to DWI cases as one driver of the increase in case filings. He noted that in 2019, the last full pre-COVID year, his office filed 316 DWI cases. The office is on pace to nearly double that number- 619 DWI cases in 2022.
Gibson said some of the increase in DWI cases is related to a growing number of cases involving drivers high on marijuana. Gibson said he expects the number of marijuana-impaired driving cases to further increase with the passage of Amendment 3, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana in Missouri.
Gibson noted that, in Colorado, one of every four traffic fatalities is now linked to marijuana use and 48% of all DWI cases in Colorado have some component of marijuana use.
“As our population grows, increased enforcement is a good thing, particularly when it comes to impaired driving cases,” Gibson remarked. “Drunk or high drivers endanger everyone in Platte County, and I applaud our sheriff’s department and other Platte County law enforcement agencies for dedicating resources to traffic safety.”
Gibson thanked the county commission and the voters for enacting a quarter cent law enforcement sales tax in 2020.
“People choose to live in Platte County because our streets are safer and our schools are better,” said Gibson. “It costs money to have deputies on the road and prosecutors in the courtroom, and it’s important that our commissioners and voters have prioritized this vital governmental function.”