Missouri lawmakers discuss possible plans for police reform

Regional News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — There’s no time to rest if you’re a state-elected official in the state of Missouri as lawmakers are currently in a special session to discuss the budget.

Besides the House Budget Committee Monday, some Representatives spent their Monday afternoon in a three-hour criminal justice committee hearing talking about a hot-button topic. Members of the committee discussed police reform and what should be done when lawmakers return in January.

“I think everyone can agree we need some sort of reform to help increase people’s confidence in law enforcement,” Committee Chair Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, said. “As well as to hold anybody in law enforcement who shouldn’t be there, who’s doing the wrong thing, accountable.”

Representatives listened as witnesses testified for and against police reform.

“So, I’m hearing things today that are concerning because we are not using the type of discretion, I would like for us to use as humans, not as law officers dealing with the general public, just humans,” Rep. Wiley Price, D-St. Louis said.

Some witnesses said the chokehold should be allowed.

“I think it’s vital we keep it in the system at a less than lethal force level,” Kevin Merritt from the Missouri Sheriff’s Association testified in front of lawmakers. “That level of technique should be restricted to the deadly force situations.”

Merritt explained to lawmakers there are two types of restraints. The one that involves the head, and the neck area is a respiratory restraint which is in line with the chokehold. The other restraint is a vascular restraint, and it does not apply pressure to the trachea.

Two other topics during the meeting was no-knock warrants and officers having “sexual relations” with those in custody.

Kemp Shoun from the Missouri State Trooper’s Association said no-knock warrants need to be justified.

“And come to the prosecutor and the judge and say, ‘Hey this is what we are looking at, it could be high risk and you need to know that,'” Shoun said, “It should be laid out, there should be a plan of entry, all those types of things that should go with it.”

No legislation came out of Monday’s hearing, but lawmakers said the goal was to start working on bills to propose when the General Assembly returns for their regular session in January.

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