The Public Safety Section is part of the Criminal Litigation Division and works extensively with local prosecutors and State and Federal law enforcement agencies. The Section consists of the Special Prosecutions Unit, Habeas Unit, Sexually Violent Predator
Unit (SVP), Victim Services and Legal Support Unit, Safer Streets Initiative, and Human Trafficking Task Force/Anti-Trafficking Enforcement Unit.
The Special Prosecutions Unit is involved in a wide range of criminal prosecutions at the investigation and trial level throughout Missouri, many of them homicide cases, child sexual abuse cases, and assault cases. The Unit’s
attorneys are appointed to assist in serious or complex prosecutions at the request of a local prosecutor and by direction of the Governor, pursuant to Section 27.030, RSMo, or are
appointed as special prosecutors by a court when local prosecutors have a conflict of interest, under Section 56.110, RSMo. Additional responsibilities of the Unit includes investigating and prosecuting corruption by public officials as part of the Attorney General’s Public Corruption Team.
The Habeas Unit defends the State in habeas corpus actions filed by inmates in state prisons. The actions, filed in the State or Federal courts, challenge the fact or length of confinement or the imposition of the death penalty. The Unit
also defends other civil suits such as declaratory judgment actions and civil rights suits that challenge the length or duration of confinement of Missouri prison inmates or that may impact the imposition of the death penalty. Each year the Unit litigates
hundreds of Federal habeas corpus actions in the Federal district courts, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as State habeas claims in Circuit Courts, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the Missouri Supreme Court.
The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) Unit seeks the civil commitment of sexual predators who suffer from a mental abnormality making them more likely than not to commit additional predatory acts of sexual violence. The Unit defends the
State when these committed individuals file a petition for release or when released individuals violate their release conditions and the State seeks to have them returned to the Department of Mental Health.
The Victim Services and Legal Support Unit provides assistance to crime victims to help them understand their options, minimize their trauma, and stabilize their lives. Advocates conduct home visits, accompany victims to court, and help
victims obtain compensation and other support as needed. They also ensure the rights of crime victims are honored, that State and Federal laws regarding victims’ rights are followed, as well as see that they have a strong voice in the criminal
justice system. Advocates often remain in contact with victims to keep them informed of direct appeals, post-conviction appeals, and habeas actions. The Unit’s legal assistants and paralegals provide investigative and legal support services
to investigators and attorneys in all units of the Public Safety Section.
The Safer Streets Initiative was announced by Attorney General Schmitt in January 2019 and is an unprecedented cooperative effort to quell violent crime in the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield metropolitan areas. In cooperation
with the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, Assistant Attorneys General within the Missouri Attorney General’s Public Safety Section will be specially designated as Special Assistant United
States Attorneys and will work hand in hand with our federal partners to prosecute homicides, carjackings, gun crimes, and a variety of other crimes. The increased prosecutorial support will help to more fully prosecute violent crime and build on
the successes of law enforcement in these areas.
The Human Trafficking Task Force/Anti-Trafficking Enforcement Unit fights human trafficking and exploitation. The AGO has launched a number of initiatives to take immediate action on this critical issue.
- Anti-Trafficking Enforcement Unit: The Attorney General created a new unit within the AGO that includes experienced prosecutors and investigators and that will focus exclusively on fighting human trafficking and exploitation.
- New Regulations Against Human Trafficking: The Attorney General's Office has issued innovative new regulations, the first of their kind in the country, that would impose strict new criminal and civil penalties on human trafficking
under Missouri’s consumer-protection laws.
- Human Trafficking Task Force: The Attorney General's Office has convened a permanent, standing task force that includes experienced leaders from law enforcement,
not-for-profit organizations, and victims’ advocacy groups to help establish a unified statewide anti-trafficking effort and to coordinate new approaches in the fight against trafficking and exploitation in Missouri.
- Human Trafficking Training: The Attorney General’s Office will collaborate with a coalition of law-enforcement officials, victims’
advocates, and non-profits to increase training regarding human trafficking across Missouri, including training for law enforcement and other groups well-positioned to identify and stop trafficking.
- Business Council Against Human Trafficking: The Attorney General's Office invites all Missouri businesses to join the
Business Council Against Human Trafficking. By educating employees, the Business Council empowers Missouri citizens in all types of professions to play an active role in the fight against human trafficking.
The Public Safety Section is headquartered in Jefferson City and has regional offices in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield.