The Missouri General Assembly spent a great deal of time over the past two years working on changes to some of our state’s crime laws. This effort has resulted in a sweeping criminal justice reform measure that now awaits the governor’s signature. Senate Bill 53 and 60 are a compromise package that delves into how justice is administered in Missouri, more than the crimes and penalties themselves.

This legislation covers multiple areas of concern, including base salaries and overall pay for our county sheriffs, new rules for juvenile detention and juvenile courts and renewed oversight for police officers and the tactics used in the line of duty. We will talk more about some of these aspects of the bill in future weeks, but I would like to focus on the bill’s changes to the residency requirements for the Kansas City Police Department.

During the 2020 legislative session, time was spent on similar requirements for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The thought was, if officer retention is an issue, maybe relaxing the requirement for officers to live in the city limits of St. Louis would allow for a larger recruitment pool.

The same school of thought went into the proposed changes for Kansas City. In this instance, if the bill becomes law, those already in the department would be grandfathered in. After Aug. 28 of this year, any new hires would be allowed to live within a 60-mile radius of the city limits of Kansas City. This also offers potential new hires the ability to continue to live where they already live, but also be close enough that they could get to work as quickly as possible in an emergency situation.

The governor continues to review all of the wording in SB 53 and 60, and has until July 14 to either sign or veto the legislation.

Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, represents District 12 in the Missouri Senate. His constituency includes part of Clay County including Kearney. Hegeman can be reached at (573) 751-1415 or dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov.

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