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Senate passes bill banning chokeholds, altering KCPD residency rules

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Senate bill banning the use of chokeholds and altering residency requirements for Kansas City police officers is moving on to the House. 

SB 53, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, quickly passed the Senate Monday by a vote of 30-4, with several Kansas City senators voting against it. The language would prohibit the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners from enacting residency requirements more restrictive than 30 miles outside of the city limit and would require officers to live within the state of Missouri. 

The bill also includes legislation from Sen. Brian Williams prohibiting the use of chokeholds by police officers in response to the death of George Floyd last summer. The trial over Floyd’s death began Monday. 

“George Floyd should still be alive today. We cannot bring him back, but we can ban police chokeholds to make sure deaths like his do not happen in Missouri. This bill will save Black lives, and its passage is a monumental step forward on an issue that has failed to make progress in Missouri until now,” Williams said. “This legislation also supports the brave men and women who wear the badge, and who need us to have their backs in ridding their ranks of a few bad actors who harm their profession.”

The bill would make various changes to law enforcement, increasing the crime of doxxing a police officer to a Class E felony, allowing sheriffs to receive up to $50 for serving or otherwise enforcing an eviction, and creating the Critical Incident Stress Management Program to provide trauma and stress management services for officers. 

“I’m proud to stand with the officers of the brave men and women of the KCPD to remove the archaic police residency requirement,” Luetkemeyer said. “My bill will increase police recruitment and ensure our city has the officers needed to combat violent crime and keep our streets safe.”

The bill was perfected last week after several hours of compromise and tweaks to the language. While the original limit on the requirement was set at 60 miles from the city limit, Sen. Barbara Washington, who represents part of Kansas City, championed an amendment setting the requirement at 25 miles from the board of commissioners’ headquarters. Washington said keeping officers close to the area encouraged economic development and improved community relations. 

“With community residency, we have people that are involved in the community,” she said. “We have police officers that don’t just walk the streets and learn people — they involve themselves, they learn about the culture and the character of the people they are sworn to protect.”

After two hours on the amendment, Luetkemeyer came forward with a compromise setting the boundary at 30 miles from the city limits within the state. The bill was swiftly perfected after the amendment’s adoption.

A similar bill was signed into law as part of last summer’s extraordinary session on violent crime, eliminating residency requirements for law enforcement and other public safety personnel in St. Louis.