A state representative hopes the recent incident of violence involving police in Ballwin and elsewhere in the U.S. will prompt more attention to bills dealing with police in Missouri.
The shooting death of Michael Brown, Junior, in August, 2014 made bills to change how police operate a greater priority for some legislators, but in the two sessions since then they haven’t gotten much traction.
Assistant House Democrat leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City), member of the Black Caucus, says she hopes that will change after shootings by and of police last week – particularly with a bill that would require police in Missouri to use body cameras.
“If you look at the incident in Minnesota and the incident in Louisiana, had there been body cameras at least it would have told the story. It would have given a little more insight as to what happened,” said McCann Beatty. “That’s not necessarily against the police department or against the victims.”
Another proposal would require a special prosecutor be appointed to look at all officer-involved shootings.
“That was one of the challenges we had in the Michael Brown shooting was whether or not the prosecutor can be objective when dealing with these situations,” said McCann Beatty.
There has also been a proposal that would require diversity training for police officers.
McCann Beatty thinks those proposals would help ease racial tension that, she said, if it is not addressed, could result in more incidents of violence like those last week.
“We have to teach our African-American males differently, which is sad but true, as it relates to the police and how they have to behave in order to stay alive. Now whether you agree with that statement or not, as a community that’s how we feel. That’s what we experience, and no one is addressing that,” said McCann Beatty.
“I heard lots of people appalled at the fact that the police officers were shot [in Dallas, Texas], and it was a horrible thing and I feel for those families, and those were innocent police officers, but I haven’t heard the same outrage for the gentlemen that were killed [in Minnesota and Louisiana] and the many others that have been killed across the country over the last few years,” said McCann Beatty.
Some law enforcement groups and legislators have opposed those bills, and said storing the data that the body cameras would create would be very expensive.