Clarification on probable cause statement from MSHP


In response to last week’s newspaper article (March 13), “Maries County prosecutor delays filing MSHP probable cause statement against Belle officer”, I would like to provide some clarifying information. According to the article there seems to be some confusion and some questions about Belle Police Department conducting an investigation. First I would like to say the investigation is still active and unfortunately I am not going to be able to go into great detail until the investigation is closed. Secondly the alleged incident occurred inside the city limits and is alleged to involve a Belle Police Officer which would clearly indicate we have the jurisdiction and the responsibility to investigate the incident. Third the Missouri Highway Patrol has not updated the police department or provided any information or updates regarding the status of the investigation. Belle Police Department learned about the probable cause statement being submitted by Missouri Highway Patrol just like everyone else did, by reading about it in the newspaper.

Once details about the allegations were disclosed with us, I discovered some suspicious circumstances that I believed we needed to investigate. I have communicated with the Maries County Prosecutor regarding my concerns and notified the prosecutor that I was investigating the matter. It is important to note that my investigation did not interfere with Missouri State Highway Patrol’s investigation because our investigation revolves around circumstances the highway patrol did not investigate.

I am surprised to hear another law enforcement officer would be concerned about bringing additional evidence to the prosecutor. The role of law enforcement officers is that of a fact finder.  Law enforcement is charged with locating and recording all evidence regardless of whether the evidence supports if someone is innocent or guilty. It is not the job of law enforcement to prove guilt or innocence and as a reminder all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

It is also important to note that unlike larger jurisdictions, Maries County Prosecutor’s Office does not have an assigned investigator to go out and clarify or conduct further investigation when the prosecutor has additional questions. Maries County Prosecutor’s Office has to rely solely on law enforcement investigations to supply detailed and accurate reports to allow him the most informed decision possible. I commend Maries County Prosecutor Tony Skouby for making sure he has all the facts available and not rushing to a filing decision.

Sgt Mark Morgan

Belle Police Department