The only Black male senator in the Missouri Legislature is asking Gov. Parson to allow a special session on policing tactics. St. Louis Senator Brian Williams says that the “state cannot wait a day longer when it comes to reforming our law enforcement agencies.”
Williams, in his letter to the governor (below), said “These reforms are not about defunding the police or allowing crime to run rampant in our streets, they are about improving the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they swore an oath to serve and protect.”
“We’re also providing the resources and tools for law enforcement to be safe as well.”
Chokeholds, practices, and creating a uniform code for training officers are on William’s agenda.
“In 20 years, there has not been an opportunity to have a conversation on the impact of policing and systemic racism from the lens of a black male,” he said.
“I think this is an opportunity for our state to make historic strides and show the rest of the country that we are interested in protecting our communities, people of color, and ensuring that law enforcement is safe at the same time,” Williams told Missourinet. “I’m confident with the interest of Democrats and Republicans as well as community leaders, activists as well as the law enforcement community. We just need the governor on board to get this done.”
State Representative Ron Hicks, R-St. Charles County, is also proposing legislation to create the criminal offense of “abuse of force” if an officer causes physical injury by unreasonable force or violence.
The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Chair Rep. Steven Roberts requested a special session via a letter to the governor in June.
Governor Parson, who often reiterates his support for law enforcement indicated Tuesday that he would not include these issues in a special session. He said in late June that reform will take time and should be handled in the regular session, starting in January.
“It’s one thing to talk about a chokehold, and I get that, and making changes of whether you put pressure on the back of the neck. Yeah, it’s quite evident that we shouldn’t be doing that. But then what else what does mean: I don’t know what all that bill would look like and I don’t know what all would be put in it. And I don’t know if you can get it done in a special session,” Parson said in a press conference at the end of June. “I think something like probably is more apt to be in the legislative session where you have public hearings and time to go through that and really analyze that. I think there’s going to be discussions on that in the Legislature this year.”
The governor has said he will call a special session on violent crime.