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Parson signs major crime bill after visiting injured officer’s family 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Mike Parson signed Missouri’s controversial crime reform bill, SB 600, into law.

“Today, I will also be signing SB 600, relating to dangerous felonies in Missouri,” Parson told reporters Monday. “This legislation is a large step towards safety and justice for our communities. However, there is a lot more to be done. These tools are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to fight violent criminals.”

SB 600, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, made a number of changes to Missouri’s criminal law, including adding the offense of vehicle hijacking, altering the definition of a street gang, allowing additional charges for conspiracy, and changing probation standards to deny parole eligibility to offenders of second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, among others.

“The signing of SB 600 is an important step to begin addressing the systemic effects of violent crime that landed Missouri’s three largest cities high on the list of America’s most dangerous,” Luetkemeyer told The Missouri Times Monday. “I greatly appreciate the partnership with prosecutors and law enforcement from across the state who worked with me throughout the process to get this bill enacted into law.”

The bill received support from law enforcement and some conservative groups since its passage by the General Assembly earlier this year. It garnered an endorsement from the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys last month, as well as a digital marketing campaign by the conservative group Liberty Alliance.

But a number of other organizations, including conservative ones, opposed SB 600, specifically the ACLU and Americans for Prosperity – Missouri (AFP-MO).  

“It’s sad Missouri is repeating decades of past mistakes by embracing discredited tough-on-crime policies that fail to make our communities safer,” AFP-MO State Director Jeremy Cady told The Missouri Times Monday. “Locking up more people does not result in safer neighborhoods, but rather harms taxpayers and needlessly rips families and communities apart. Even though our neighboring states in Kansas and Illinois have a lower incarceration rate than Missouri, their violent crime rates are substantially lower than ours. We urge Governor Parson to embrace smart-on-crime policies that increase justice and compassion in our criminal justice system and are proven to reduce crime.”

Parson said he would sign the bill during Monday’s press briefing, which followed a visit over the weekend with the family of an officer who was injured in the line of duty in Kansas City. 

“As Governor and a former law enforcement officer for 22 years, protecting the citizens of our state is of utmost importance to my administration. We all want our communities to be safe, and we worry when we see violent criminals threaten our neighborhoods,” Parson said. “SB 600 holds violent offenders accountable for their actions and is a major step towards safety and justice for our communities. We must continue working together to identify solutions, address crime, and keep Missourians safe.”

Parson also addressed the possibility of a special session with a focus on violent crime, which was a request from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. 

“We will continue working together to identify solutions, address crime — especially violent crime — and to keep Missourians safe,” Parson said.

Read more about SB 600 here.

This story has been updated.