Missouri state lawmakers are moving forward on bills to discourage investigations into police misconduct. On Tuesday, the Senate General Laws Committee advanced SB 26 and on Monday, the Senate Judiciary, Civil, and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee advanced SB 66. Both bills would impose arbitrary restrictions on misconduct investigations, undermining transparency and police accountability and even subjecting local governments and law enforcement agencies to the threat of civil fines and other costs. They passed SB 66 — completely unironically — during the same hearing in which they passed SB 60, a bill to prevent police misconduct and violence by requiring transparency surrounding officer-involved deaths, tightening the law on police use of force, and mandating de-escalation training, among other important proposals to enhance police accountability.
Meanwhile, the House passed HSC / HB 85 and 310 yesterday, bills which would purport to nullify federal gun laws and threaten to punish law enforcement agencies for protecting their communities by helping to enforce public safety laws.
“It is unclear what Missouri lawmakers are trying to accomplish and who it is for — but it’s not Missouri law enforcement and it’s not our communities,” said Tara Bennett, a volunteer with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Even as they move a bill to improve police relations and public safety by requiring transparency into police violence, they’re also writing bills to discourage investigations into police misconduct. Meanwhile, they’re passing bills that would punish law enforcement for helping to enforce federal gun laws and working with federal agencies to combat gun violence. I mean, what on earth is going on?”
In a seething editorial last month, the Kansas City Star Editorial Board criticized the Missouri legislature for fast-tracking nullification legislation saying, “To see the Missouri Senate waste time and energy on an unconstitutional, unnecessary measure like SB 39 is frustrating. It’s doubly concerning when gun violence continues to rock the state, leading to record murders in some cities.”