As gun violence continues throughout Missouri, state legislators are attempting to advance SB 26, a dangerous and extreme bill to discourage investigations into police misconduct by imposing arbitrary restrictions on misconduct investigations, undermining transparency and police accountability and even subjecting local governments and law enforcement agencies to the threat of lawsuits and associated costs. Additionally, language was added to the bill to allow 18-year-olds to obtain permits to carry concealed handguns in public. This bill was voted out of the House floor on Tuesday and is now being considered in a conference committee.
This bill comes at the same time that many states are working to increase police accountability and create policies that would discourage police misconduct and prevent police violence after several high-profile police shootings across the country. SB 26 would do the opposite, and put the state at further risk of police violence by providing extraordinary protections.
The policy would be particularly harmful for Black people and people of color in our community. Black Americans are shot and killed by police at nearly three times the rate of white Americans. In an average year, 28 people are shot and killed by police in Missouri.
Similar legislation has been proven to be problematic in other states. Maryland, which passed the very first “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights Law” repealed theirs just a few weeks ago after decades of it hindering efforts to hold officers who abuse their authority accountable.
Police violence is a form of gun violence, and it is essential that law enforcement agencies adopt meaningful use of force policies, which encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable.
More information on gun violence in Missouri is available here.