ST. LOUIS — St. Louis police officers will be able to live outside the city they patrol and give additional resources to crime victims and witnesses along with their immediate families, according to two bills Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law Monday.
The General Assembly passed both bills during a recent special session on violent crime.
“We have a serious problem with violent crime here in Missouri, and we have seen it escalate even more in recent months,” Parson wrote. “HB 66 and HB 46 are valuable tools that will build on our efforts to combat violent crime, support law enforcement officers, and make our communities safer.”
In St. Louis, there have been more homicides so far this year than in all of 2019. As of Sept. 18, there have been 195 murders in St. Louis, compared to 194 in 2019.
HB 66 creates a Pretrial Witness Protection Fund in which law enforcement agencies can provide resources to keep crime victims, witnesses and their immediate families safe, according to the governor’s press release.
HB 46 removes the residency requirements for public safety employees in the City of St. Louis. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is currently short by more than 140 officers, and some public officials including Mayor Lyda Krewson, Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and Chief John Hayden have said the city’s residency requirement is an impediment to recruiting qualified applicants.
The city had a policy in place requiring police officers to live within the city for the first seven years of their careers.
The city is authorized to have about 1,300 commissioned officers.
There are 660 commissioned officers who live outside the city. There are 330 officers who are able to live outside of the city, but choose not to, according to the city’s Director of Personnel Richard Frank. Officers who have lived in the city for at least seven years may move.