JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A sweeping police reform bill, seeking to increase accountability among officers and departments across the state, garnered support from law enforcement organizations during a committee hearing Monday.
“Through common-sense reforms — banning chokeholds, preventing of sexual misconduct, making sure that bad officers are not allowed to avoid accountability for their actions — we can improve police [and] community relations, and we can restore the trust that’s the very foundation of public safety,” Williams said during the hearing, adding that the bill had bipartisan support.
The bill would require officers to use less intrusive methods to detain a person before resorting to deadly force to effect an arrest and disallow officers from using deadly force unless the officer believes the suspect poses an imminent threat to the officer or others around them.
The bill has broad support among police organizations in the state, with many organizations sending representatives to testify in favor of the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday afternoon. Representatives from the Missouri State Troopers Association, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, and more were at the hearing to voice support of the bill.
“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.
“We won’t have what happened in Minnesota with George Floyd in Missouri; we won’t have what happened to Breonna Taylor in Louisville in Missouri; we won’t have another Michael Brown in Missouri. And folks would be able to feel safe and not only have trust in law enforcement, but law enforcement officers would feel safe in the community as well,” Williams told The Missouri Times.
The committee also heard SB 53 from Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, which would remove a requirement that police officers in Kansas City reside within the city, and SB 66 from Sen. Rick Brattin, which includes several controversial public safety provisions, including one removing liability from a driver who hits a pedestrian who is blocking traffic during a protest.
This story has been updated.