JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has called a special legislative session to focus on violent crime across the state, with an emphasis on amending six statutes, including the requirement that St. Louis police officers must live in the city.
The session will begin Monday, July 27.
"The effects of violent crime on across our state are best measured by lives – innocent lives lost, futures cut shot, families hurting," Parson said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "Police officers across the state are also hurting. They are maxed out."
Parson said the special session will focus on amending six different statutes:
- Police and Public Safety Employee Residency Requirements for St. Louis: The proposal to be considered would eliminate the residency requirement for St. Louis law enforcement as long as the officer lives within an hour of the city. This proposal would also prohibit requiring any public safety employee for the City of St. Louis to be a resident of the city.
- Juvenile Certification: This proposal requires the court to determine if a juvenile should be certified for trial as an adult for the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.
- Witness Statement Admissibility: This proposal would allow certain statements to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed under the current statute.
- Witness Protection Fund: This proposal creates the Pretrial Witness Protection Fund.
- Endangering the Welfare of a Child: This proposal modifies the offense of endangering the welfare of a child for a person who encourages a child to engage in any weapons offense.
- Unlawful Transfer of Weapons: This proposal would increase the penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers any firearm to a child under 18 years old without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.
"Violent crime is not just a St. Louis or Kansas City problem," Parson said. "It is a Missouri problem."
To read the Parson's proclamation, click here.
"Why spend state money to fund a witness protection program when we don't have any witness that feel comfortable coming forward to law enforcement?" State Sen. Brian Williams asked, rhetorically.
Williams, a Democrat serving parts of St. Louis and St. Louis County, is pushing the governor to include police reform in legislative talks.
"I made it very clear to the governor in my letter that we're not looking to defend the police department. We're looking to find transparency, create a dialogue between the community and law enforcement, and ultimately rebuild trust and move Missouri forward," Williams said.
Missouri Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohoe released the following statement on Parson's announcement:
“Governor Mike Parson has spent his two years in office doing nothing to address gun violence. Now, in a cynical election-year ploy designed by D.C. consultants, the Governor is calling a special session to address the epidemic of gun violence in communities across the state.
"Unfortunately, the Governor’s planned special session seems more driven by his own sinking poll numbers and his struggling re-election campaign than a genuine commitment to address this crisis. If the Governor is really serious about reducing crime, he should use this special session to finally pass common-sense gun control.”
To date, there have been 130 homicide investigations in the City of St. Louis, as compared to 100 at this time last year, according to data provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
The city experienced another night of violence Tuesday night into early Wednesday. Four people were killed in three separate shootings across the city. One of the shootings was a triple homicide.