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Bipartisan economic distress, police mental health programs signed into law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A pair of funds meant to aid distressed communities was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson this week, offering new programs for police officers and economic distress zones.

Sen. Karla May’s bipartisan SB 57 would establish a Critical Incident Stress Management Program for police officers within the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Under the program, officers would receive assistance coping with stress and psychological trauma resulting from an emotionally stressful event on the job. All officers would be required to meet with a program service provider every three to five years for a mental health check-in

Another section of the bill focused on struggling communities; the Economic Distress Zone Fund, also distributed by DPS, would allocate funding to nonprofit organizations offering services to areas with high crime and deteriorating infrastructure

“At the heart of SB 57 is the desire to strengthen our communities,” May said. “By investing in communities in crisis, we can create new opportunities that address the root cause of crime. At the same time, we need to support our law enforcement officers and ensure they have the resources they need to serve our communities to the fullest. SB 57 accomplishes both of these goals, and I’m honored to see the governor sign this bill into law.”

The bill passed the upper chamber with broad bipartisan support and was carried by GOP Rep. Ron Hicks in the House. While an attempt to add a “police officers bill of rights” as an amendment briefly put the package in flux, it was truly agreed to and finally passed unanimously after the measure was dropped in conference. Hicks said he was “honored and blessed to be able to help our [law enforcement officers] and areas of high crime.”

With both funds passed under one bill, May previously told The Missouri Times they would work hand-in-hand to reduce crime and maintain the health of communities and law enforcement.