In a year when 200 shootings have wounded or killed law enforcement personnel nationally, there’s an effort in Missouri to stiffen penalties for such offenses.
Oakville Republican state Representative Marsha Haefner has pre-filed a measure to make certain infractions, including shootings against law enforcement officers, a hate crime.
She notes the bill covers many emergency responders. “If someone knows that someone’s a police officer or a fire fighter, or drives an ambulance, any first responders that someone commits a crime against” said Haefner. “When they know that that’s what they do for a living, the penalties for that crime, should they be found guilty, will be increased.”
Haefner says all first responders are subject to illegal aggression. She notes her legislation covers all sorts of infraction, in addition to shootings. “It’s about any crime committed against a law officer or any first responder” said Haefner. “(It) includes assault, battery or any crime. All the attention is on the shootings, but there’s also many other crimes that this would protect them from.”
Haefner notes her latest submission – which was made on December 1st, the annual first day to pre-file bills for the next session – is the same measure she put forth in the last legislative session which was largely overlooked.
She says House Speaker Todd Richardson has assured her the bill will get serious attention in 2017. “I’ve had several conversations with Speaker Richardson about it. And he is very supportive, and will do what he can to help me get this bill across the finish line.”
Haefner thinks the backlog of about a thousand bills in the last session prevented her legislation from receiving much consideration. Her hate crime measure was assigned to a committee but never got a hearing.
Republican Representative-elect Nick Schroer of O’Fallon has pre-filed a similar measure to Haefner’s. It also covers acts of violence against other first responders in addition to law enforcement personnel.