Ruckus – Jean Peters Baker
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Ruckus – Jean Peters Baker


BUT WE START WITH OUR NEWS MAKER SEGMENT AND FOCUS ON CRIME
FIGHTING EFFORTS IN JACKSON
COUNTY, MISSOURI.
JEAN PETERS BAKER IS THE COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, APPOINTED
TO THE JOB IN MAY 2011; FIRST
ELECTED TO IT IN NOVEMBER 2012.
JEAN PETERS BAKER’S NAME IS A FAMILIAR ONE TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW
THE NEWS.
IT SHOWS UP IN VARIOUS STORIES,
DEALING WITH HOMICIDES, JAIL ISSUES AND EFFORTS TO COMBAT
CRIME.
JEAN PETERS BAKER IS ONLY THE
SECOND WOMAN TO SERVE AS JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR.
THE FIRST WAS CLAIRE MCCASKILL.
THINGS TURNED OUT PRETTY WELL
FOR HER, MADAM PROSECUTOR. WELCOME TO RUCKUS.
IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU, AND THANK
YOU FOR COMING IN.
>>IT IS A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.>>MIKE: I MADE A LIST OF TOPICS
TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT, AND IT
KEPT GETTING LONGER AS THE WEEK
WENT BY. SO LET ME TRY TO CONSOLIDATE THE
QUESTIONS.
THE LEGISLATURE AND COUNTY
EXECUTIVE ARE BATTLING OVER BUDGET AND STAFFING, A BATTLE IS
ON OVER WHO IS SUPPOSED TO RUN
THE COMBAT PROGRAM, YOU OR THE
COUNTY EXECUTOR SOMEONE HE APPOINTS.
THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE WAS CALLED
OVER A DISPUTE IN ONE OF THE
FINANCE OFFICES. I GUESS THE QUESTION IS, HOW DO
YOU ASSESS THE STATE OF COUNTY
GOVERNMENT?
IS IT DYSFUNCTIONAL AT THIS POINT?
>>THERE’S A FAIR AMOUNT OF
CHAOS AT THIS MOMENT.
SO I THINK WHAT I WOULD SAY IS, I PRAY THAT OUR COUNTY EXEC WENT
HOME LAST NIGHT, GOT A GOOD
NIGHT’S SLEEP AND IS READY TO
COME BACK TO THE OFFICE TODAY WILLING TO TALK TO OTHER
BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.
>>DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM
RESTS WITH THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE FRANK WHITE?
>>I THINK HE IS CREATING A
WHOLE LOT OF THE CHAOS THAT IS
HAPPENING. SO THIS HAS BEEN BUILDING FOR A
WHILE.
IT’S NOT JUST A PROBLEM THAT
CREEPED UP OVERNIGHT. IT’S BEEN BUILDING, AND IT HAS
CULMINATED IN THE COUNTY
EXECUTIVE DEEMING ALL OF THE
ACTIONS OR THE ONES HE CHOOSES, THE ACTIONS HE HAS CHOSEN OF THE
JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE JUST
DON’T MATTER, AND HE DOESN’T
HAVE TO FOLLOW THEIR RULE OF LAW SO THAT CREATES A LOT OF IN
STABILITY AND CHAOS.
I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF THAT, LIKE
MANY OTHER COUNTY EMPLOYEES, JUST REALLY CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO.
>>IS IT MAKING YOUR JOB MORE
DIFFICULT?>>THERE’S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT,
MAKING IT A LOT MORE DIFFICULT.
>>DO YOU THINK IT’S DUE TO MR.
WHITE’S INEXPERIENCE IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT?
>>IT MAY BE THAT.
IT MAY BE THAT HE HAS A MIS
UNDERSTANDING OF HOW BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT WORK.
YOU KNOW, THE LEGISLATURE, THE
JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE
PASSES ORDINANCES WHEN THEY PASO RECOGNIZE THEM.
THERE IS ANOTHER MECHANISM IF
YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM.
YOU GO TO COURT, AND YOU ALLOW A JUDGE TO STEP IN AND TAKE A LOOK
>>COEQUAL BRANCHES OF
GOVERNMENT?
>>YES.>>MIKE: KIND OF A FAMILIAR
CONCEPT IN AMERICA.
>>YES.
>>MIKE: I HAVE TO MOVE ON TO SOME OTHER AREAS.
THERE’S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT THE
HIGH HOMICIDE RATE IN 2017.
>>YES.>>MIKE: I’M SURE YOU THINK
ABOUT IT A LOT.
149 COMPARED WITH 82 IN 2014,
JUST THREE YEARS EARLIER. WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT THE
RATE WENT UP IN KANSAS CITY LAST
YEAR WHEN SIMILAR SIZED AND
LARGER CITIES SAW THEIR HOMICIDE RATES DECLINING?
>>WELL, THERE’S, I THINK,
SEVERAL REASONS FOR THAT, BUT I
WOULD SAY KANSAS CITY IS NOT ALONE.
THERE ARE MANY CITIES THAT ARE
OF COMPARABLE SIZE, SOME LITTLE
LARGER, SOME A LITTLE SMALLER, THAT HAVE HAD THE SAME
EXPERIENCE OF THIS HIGHER THAN
THE YEAR BEFORE HOMICIDE RATE.
BALTIMORE HAS HAD A TERRIFIC PROBLEM AS WELL.
ST. LOUIS HAS HAD A TERRIFIC
PROBLEM AMONG OTHER CITIES.
I DON’T KNOW THAT THERE’S A SINGULAR ANSWER FOR THAT, AND I
THINK ANYBODY THAT COMES TO YOU
WITH A SIMPLE SOLUTION, ALL OF
US SHOULD BE SUSPECT OF.>>MIKE: AND THERE ARE SOME
HOMICIDES THAT CAN’T BE
PREDICTED, IT WOULD SEEM TO ME.
SOME ARE A RESULT OF AN EMOTIONAL CONFLICT NOBODY CAN
PREDICT.
WHAT ABOUT THE JACKSON COUNTY
JAIL, IS THERE ANY DOUBT IN YOUR MIND THAT THERE IS A NEED FOR A
NEW ONE?
>>THERE IS NOT DOUBT IN MY MIND
THAT THERE IS NEED FOR A NEW FACILITY SILT, AND THE CURRENT
FACILITY, THOUGH, TO RECEIVE THE
SAME KIND OF ATTENTION, SOME OF
THESE OTHER DISPUTES YOU TALKED ABOUT, THOSE JAIL NEEDS THAT
SAME KIND OF ATTENTION.
>>MIKE: WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOT
TO SERVE ON THE COMMITTEE THAT’S LOOKING AT A NEW JAIL OR LOOKING
AT WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE CURRENT
JAIL?
>>THIS COMMITTEE WAS TO STUDY WHETHER OR NOT THERE’S A PROBLEM
, IS THERE A PROBLEM.
>>MIKE: YOU KNOW THERE’S A
PROBLEM, RIGHT?>>LET’S JUST STOP WITH THAT NON
SENSE.
I THINK THERE CAN BE A COMMITTEE
THAT TAKES A LOOK AT ISSUES AND REALLY DIGS INTO THEM, BUT TO
HALT PROGRESS ON THIS CURRENT
FACILITY BECAUSE WE NEED MORE
STUDY IS — IT’S JUST A COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE ANSWER.
WE NEED TO MOVE NOW.
>>MIKE: DO YOU HAVE ANY
INTEREST IN FOLLOWING THE PATH OF YOUR PREDECESSOR, MS.
MCCASKILL, LOOK FOR HIGHER
POLITICAL OFFICE AT SOME POINT?
>>I THINK I’M VERY HAPPY TO BE THE JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR,
NOT JUST HAPPY, I’M PROUD TO BE
THE JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR.
SO THAT’S MY JOB, AND THAT’S WHERE I WILL REMAIN.
>>MIKE: I APPRECIATE YOU COMING
IN.
I WISH WE HAD MORE TIME TO TALK. MAYBE YOU’LL COME BACK ANOTHER
TIME AND WE CAN TALK SOME MORE.
>>PERHAPS.
THANK YOU.>>MIKE: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
THAT IS JACKSON COUNTY
PROSECUTOR JEAN —
PETERS BAKER. NOW LET’S MEET THE PANEL AND
START A RUCKUS!
.

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