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Legislature considers adding marshals for greater security in House, Senate

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As an extra layer of safety, legislation was brought before a House committee Monday seeking to add a marshal service to serve at the discretion of the House speaker and Senate president pro tem. 

The officers would be in addition to the sergeant at arms and the Capitol police who already serve in the statehouse. 

Rep. Lane Roberts

“This is in recognition of the world we’re living in today,” Roberts, a Republican, said. “In the event there was some kind of problem here at the Capitol, there are a number of law enforcement entities that would have some responsibilities associated with that. By having these particular people who are focused exclusively on the security of the two chambers and membership, it would relieve those other agencies of that responsibility.” 

The marshal service established through HB 784 would require officers to have at least five years of experience and up-to-date peace officer certification, Roberts told the House Crime Prevention Committee Monday. The Senate president pro tem and House speaker would also determine how many marshals — as well as what day-to-day responsibilities — are needed. 

The bill allows the marshals to have the same powers granted to law enforcement officers in Missouri in order to make arrests and detain people “necessary to ensure the proper security and functioning” of the General Assembly. Marshals would also be allowed to carry firearms. 

During the committee hearing, Rep. Rasheen Aldridge inquired about adding minority party leadership to those deciding specifics about the marshals. 

“I would be disappointed if this would ever to become a partisan issue,” Roberts said. “It’s a sad commentary that we even have to be considering this. This is the People’s House. The provision of security specific to the People’s House needs to be done with discretion. I would not envision this to be political in any aspect. Their function is to keep the two chambers safe, keep the membership safe.” 

A fiscal note has not yet been attached to the bill, but Roberts said he expected some costs to be associated with the establishment of the service, including salaries, uniforms, and certification. 

Aside from the relatively quick hearing, no further action was taken on the legislation in the committee Monday. 

Meanwhile, in another House hearing room, the Homeland Security Committee heard a bill from Rep. Ron Hicks that would establish the Capitol Police Board, legislation he’s sponsored multiple times in the past. 

“I’m trying to take care of a police department that I feel has been neglected,” Hicks said. “Let’s take care of the officers in this community and put politics aside; I’m willing to make this as bipartisan as I can and will look into any amendment from the other side of the aisle.” 

Security has been a major issue in the Missouri Capitol since the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Department of Natural Resources, and other officers joined the Capitol Police in patrolling the statehouse.