More Missouri legislators call for a special session on public safety, police funding

Missouri News

ST. LOUIS — For the second week in a row, Republican lawmakers in one of Missouri’s largest cities want to come back to Jefferson City for a special session.

Lawmakers in the Kansas City and now St. Louis areas want to stop local governments from defunding police departments.

Combined, the city’s two departments are down more than 300 officers. Both cities are planning changes to their police budgets, and a group of legislators want to put a stop to it. They’re asking Gov. Mike Parson to call the General Assembly back to the Capitol.

“Today, I am calling on a special session to prohibit St. Louis and Kansas City from defunding our police,” Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, said.

Several Kansas City area lawmakers have also already called for a special session on the issue.

Schroer said both cities are in crisis right now due to crime.

“Truly worried that by taking resources away from our law enforcement officers, especially when they need it the most, crime will skyrocket,” he said.

Last month, the Kansas City Council voted to move $42 million of the department’s budget to a Community Services Fund. The police board and city manager will have to come into contract on how that money is spent. The department will still have its required 20% of overall city budget to spend as it pleases.

Since the council’s vote, the state has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the police board.

In St. Louis, a city spending plan would cut $4 million from the police department’s budget. Instead, the money would go to homeless services and affordable housing.

“With all these reports of out of control crime, it has become abundantly clear that it is difficult now to attract new businesses and new investments in our state,” Schroer said.

Schroer said he doesn’t have a definitive plan for the special session, but he’s considering pushing for the state to take back control of St. Louis police.

“To send a message to the city of St. Louis and the city attorney, Kimberly Gardner, if the city does not get serious about arresting criminals and prosecuting those cases against them, I myself will push for the state to take back control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” he said.

Newly elected St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a joint statement Wednesday on the Republican lawmakers request:

“Today’s grandstanding doesn’t make our communities any safer. As mayors of Missouri’s two largest cities, we are committed to collaborating with anyone willing to offer real solutions and investment to address the underlying conditions that lead to crime—poverty, lack of mental health services, housing instability, and more. 

“Republican lawmakers on the outskirts of our communities calling for a special legislative session are offering no real solutions. Instead, they are advocating away the right of St. Louis and Kansas City residents to make decisions for our own communities. 

“Both of us have committed to visiting each other’s respective cities to speak with those most affected by disinvestment—primarily in traditionally minority neighborhoods—and to discuss solutions to benefit the people of St. Louis, Kansas City, and all of Missouri. We again extend that same invitation to any elected leader who is serious about having truthful conversations about what actually makes our communities safer.”

Schroer said he has talked with some Democrats about a special session, and he said some agree it needs to happen.

But ultimately, it will be up to the governor. Parson’s office said Wednesday said he has not reached any decision yet.

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