More funding through voter approved sales tax increase means a better criminal justice system for Greene County

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. An increase in funding means an increase in public safety in Greene County.

The Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has a work load of more than 4,600 criminal cases. That amount is growing by nearly four percent each year.

The additional funding provided by voters through a half-cent sales tax increase is what is needed to help an ailing criminal justice system.

"I think the community recognized that for years we have done the best with what we have and we always strive to improvise, adapt and overcome but I think that they saw the need," said prosecutor, Dan Patterson.

His office is committed to public safety despite limited resources.

"We want to maintain the quality of life that we have in Springfield we have to invest in certain things. Public safety is one of those things," he said.

The sales tax increase will bring in more than a million dollars to the prosecutor's office each year.

"It's going to be a huge help on a number of fronts. When you go back to the first law enforcement sales tax in 1996, 1997, the result of that was many, many more cases coming to the prosecutor's office without the additional staff to deal with those," he said.

The money will pay for seven more prosecutors, two more investigators and ten more support staff members to start. Additional workers will be hired over time.

Patterson said, "These additional staff are going to help us attack that and better serve not just victims but our entire community."

The added funding will also go towards making sure the system works.

"It will let us pursue some programs to improve the effectiveness of our criminal justice system," he explained.

A family justice center for domestic violence victims will be created.

The drug treatment court will also see improvements.

"It's an exciting time. The people who work in this office, from the receptionist through all the prosecutors are here because they believe in our mission. To be able to see that our citizens have invested in us and the work that we do for them is extremely rewarding," said Patterson.

He explained that it will be at least a year until we start seeing the growth he expects from his office.