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Police reform, residency requirement bills combined

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A pair of bills, both relating to policing in Missouri — albeit with two very different objectives — will now move forward in the Missouri Senate as one piece of legislation.

Sen. Brian Williams’s SB 60 includes several police reforms, including a ban on chokeholds; Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB 53 would remove a residency requirement on police officers in Kansas City. The pair was rolled into one bill by the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, meaning the bills will now be heard and voted on together as it advances through the legislative process.

During a special session last year, the legislature passed a bill that eliminated the residency requirement on St. Louis city police officers. Luetkemeyer’s bill would bring the same change to Kansas City.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson was in support of eliminating the requirement, saying it would help with officer recruitment. 

“I asked the governor to include police reform during the special session, and it was not included in the call. We cannot allow that to happen again,” Williams told The Missouri Times. “We cannot afford another police residency bill without police reforms. If police residency moves forward it is imperative that police reform does as well.”

SB 60 has broad support among police organizations in the state. Representatives from the Missouri State Troopers Association, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, and more voiced support of the bill when it went through it’s initial hearing as a standalone bill in committee. 

“We want to thank Sen. Williams for his efforts over the last six to eight months, sitting down with everyone involved, and reaching a consensus on a really good piece of legislation,” Brad Thielemier with Missouri State Troopers Association said at the bill’s initial hearing.

Several groups also testified in favor of SB 53 before it was combined with Williams’s bill. The Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, St. Louis Police Officers Association, and St. Louis County Police Officers Association all offered testimony in support of the bill.

The committee substitute will now be debated on the Senate floor.