This week, the Senate Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety opened the Special Session of the legislature by hearing a bill to stop violent crime in Missouri. SB 1, sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff), contains numerous provisions, including eliminating the residency requirement for St. Louis law enforcement so long as the officer lives within an hour of the city. Numerous law enforcement officials testified that St. Louis City was down in the number of officers needed because of the residency requirement. They noted that geographic size and shrinking population of the city hindered recruitment.
Another aspect of the bill is to give judges the ability to determine if a child between the ages of 12 and 18 should be tried as an adult for unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. Prosecutors and police were in favor of the provision as a means of addressing increasing violence in Missouri. Public defenders and criminal defense lawyers, along with others concerned with young offenders being incarcerated in adult prisons, offered testimony in opposition to changing the law.
The committee will convene on August 5 to consider action on the bill.