JEFFERSON CITY — For the second day in a row, Missouri lawmakers tacked on a slew of amendments to one of the few major crime package proposals moving through the legislature as the session nears its end.
A revised version of Senate Bill 53 was brought to the House floor for approval before heading back to the Senate in what could be a contentious showdown over the terms of police reform in the state. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, and handled in the House by Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin.
In its original form, SB 53 primarily sought to remove residency requirements for Kansas City police officers and create a new “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights” that would grant protections for officers under investigation for misconduct.
The bill also provided that transferring officers be subject to enhanced background checks — with the idea being that better background checks could prevent officers who leave a department for misconduct from being hired in another jurisdiction.
SB 53 was eventually combined with SB 60 — Sen. Brian Williams’, D-University City, early-session bill that bans respiratory chokeholds — to the chagrin of Missouri’s NAACP Chapter President Nimrod Chapel, who criticized Williams’ decision to add his bill to SB 53. Chapel argued that the bill would create harmful protections for the police.
An amendment added to the bill Wednesday by Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, would reduce the waiting period in which one could apply for a criminal record expungement.
That’s important, “especially in the cases where there’s a false arrest involved,” Lovasco said. “We’ve got situations where people are applying for employment, … and the background check will flag them for having been arrested perhaps decades in the past, and as a result, they are denied employment.”
Additionally, another amendment brought by Rep. David Evans, R-West Plains, would require that pre-trial juvenile defendants being tried as adults be held in juvenile detention centers rather than adult jails.
Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, introduced an amendment that would require police officers to wear body cameras and record every traffic stop, along with a mandate that the recordings be kept in a public statewide database. It would’ve also created new offenses for officers that intentionally disable their cameras.
The amendment received criticism from some lawmakers and was withdrawn before a vote was taken.
The bill passed with a margin of 138-11, sending it back to the Senate for final approval. It could be taken to a conference committee — where lawmakers from the House and Senate convene to mend differences in a bill — if the Senate does not green light the changes.