Belle police sergeant disappointed with article, clears things up


In response to the Maries County Advocate Newspaper article titled, “Belle Sergeant’s proposed ordinance sparks Sunshine Law, state statute violation concerns” in last week’s paper. I would like to say I am very disappointed the newspaper was able to take the time to reach out people to ask for reactions but failed to reach out to person that was working on the ordinance for a comment. The article published contains a lot of misinformation that could easily have been cleared up with a phone call to me. Now that is said I am going to try to clear some things up here.

First off the ordinance in question is in draft form at this time and was not the final version nor was it being presented to the council for a vote. The matter was on the agenda to allow the city attorney to explore the legalities of it with the city council. This is all I will say regarding the sunshine violation concerns and I would suggest anyone that continues to have a sunshine violation concern should contact the city attorney.

Secondly the article indicates Marshal Coborn arranged the current search warrant notification system with the drug task force and the Maries County Sheriff’s Office. This is also incorrect; the current system was dictated by Maries County Sheriff’s Office and did not involve any compromise other that they would give the police department a call prior (5 minutes before) to executing the warrant. I have requested multiple times for a meeting with the agencies involved to explain and resolve this conflict and the meeting requests have been refused.

As far as Marshal Coborn not being aware of the ordinance I was working on that is correct. I have discussed the concerns of public safety and officer safety with the Marshal on several occasions and he was aware that I was researching solutions. I did not mention this specific ordinance in its current state with the Marshal because the ordinance is not complete. Once the ordinance is complete and our city attorney has reviewed the ordinance I will present Marshal Coborn the final version to present to the city council for a vote if he chooses to do so.

Now let’s move on to the legal challenge portion of the article specifically Mr. Heitman’s comments;

“Considering Mark Morgan is running for sheriff, I am surprised at his ignorance to the state statute when it comes to governing the sheriff”. Unfortunately Mr. Heitman’s first response to hearing about this is to try to insert politics into the matter and his knee jerk response has exposed his lack of knowledge of the matter. If Mr. Heitman would have called me or set up a meeting he would quickly realize the matter has been thoroughly researched and has been discussed it with several experienced law enforcement administrators as well as multiple attorneys.

My research has revealed the city is well within its rights to enact an ordinance to protect the public as long as the ordinance does not conflict with existing state statutes. The current version of the ordinance or the expected final version will NOT conflict with any state statute. The ordinance will NOT prohibit any law enforcement agency from conducting a search warrant. The goal of the ordinance is to enhance public safety and to insure all law enforcement officers operating inside the city limits are all on the same page. We owe it to the citizens we serve to do everything in our power to provide the most professional, efficient and most importantly, safest law enforcement services possible.

Furthermore Mr. Heitman compounds the problem by publicly stating if the ordinance is passed he will not comply with the city’s ordinance. As our current elected sheriff that statement gives me great pause and concerns for the citizens of the county. It is very disturbing to hear a law enforcement officer publicly declare he is not subject to the same laws to include city ordinances that everyone else is subject to just because he does not agree with it.

To go further into detail, regarding why we need the ordinance, the Belle Police Department is hosting a public meeting that will allow me to explain why the ordinance is necessary and how it will enhance public safety. We cannot continue to allow personal feeling to dictate when or how law enforcement works together. It is my hope that Mr. Heitman will leave his personal feeling about the city at home and come to the meeting with an open mind about enhancing public safety. I encourage our citizens to attend this meeting because we need your feedback on this matter. The meeting will consist of brief on how search warrants are being executed and how the new ordinance (if voted in) will impact future search warrants. Once the presentation is complete I will open the floor up to anyone with questions or concerns.

The meeting is scheduled for June 4th 2024 at 7:00 PM and will be held at the Belle-Bland Community Center located at 200 Hwy 28 in Belle Missouri. I hope to see everyone there.

Sgt Mark Morgan

Belle Police Department