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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
Missouri has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. Legal precedent allows for the practice in exigent circumstances.
Pending Legislation: HB405 and HB456 have been introduced during the first regular session of 2021. If either bill passes, no-knock warrants will be “issued only with reasonable suspicion that the perpetrator of a violent felony offense will escape or cause bodily harm to others.” Evidence obtained without meeting this requirement can be suppressed in court. This bill makes it more difficult to obtain a no-knock warrant and creates consequences for unauthorized no-knock searches.
Missouri has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. Despite facing scrutiny over involvement in the program after the death of Michael Brown, the state remains actively involved in the 1033 program.
SB60 has been introduced during the first regular session of 2021. If it passes, police departments will not be able to receive certain military equipment from any federal surplus programs. This bill discourages an overly militaristic mindset in officers and encourages non-violent resolution.
Military style training
Missouri has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.
Missouri has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use. The state did change its body camera laws, but hasn't updated reporting requirements for SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Beginning in 2001, Missouri required that all profits from civil asset forfeiture cases be directed into the state's education fund. Regrettably, Missouri police departments have relied on the practice known as 'equitable sharing'--Missouri litigates forfeiture claims in partnership with the federal government and gets to retain 80% of the profits. Legislators in 2018 tried to limit this process, but the bill (HB 2507) died in committee.
Missouri banned ticket quotas following protests in Ferguson in 2014. However, many departments have illegally continued this practice. The Attorney General sued two cities in 2019 for disregarding the 'no quota' rule.
Cost of misconduct
Missouri has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Missouri has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. Legislation to decriminalize marijuana died in the House, despite receiving unanimous support from the Special Committee on Criminal Justice. Of note, Missouri has the 8th highest prison population in the nation.
Objective justification for stops
Missouri has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description).
Reporting stop details
Missouri requires cataloging of race, gender, residence, outstanding warrants, and presence of alcohol/drugs for vehicle stops, but these reports are reported in an aggregated fashion to the Attorney General. In 2019, the AG requested that departments submit the dis-aggregated data to learn more about the intersections of crime and policing, but this is still a voluntary option.
Reckless civil rights violation
Missouri has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
Missouri has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. However, in 2019, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell established an independent unit tasked specifically with examining cases of police misconduct. This change came after Bob McCulloch, Prosecuting Attorney in 2014, declined to appoint an independent investigator for the Michael Brown case.
HB287 has been introduced during the first regular session of 2021. If it passes, a special prosecutor will investigate officer-involved deaths and shootings. This bill would end the practice of police departments investigating themselves when an officer shoots or kills someone. A third party investigator allows for greater objectivity.
Missouri has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Missouri counties across the state work with Missouri Council Crisis Intervention Team to develop mental health training for officers and connect law enforcement to local mental health services. However, CIT programs still dispatch officers to mental health crisis situations.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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