In the wake of the release of the Department of Justice’s scathing report on its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, racial justice advocates converged in Jefferson City today to support the Fair and Impartial Policing Act, SB 559. The primary sponsor of SB 559 is Missouri Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, and co-sponsors include Senators S. Kiki Curls (D-9) and Jamilah Nasheed (D-5).
SB 559 has been read twice on the Senate floor and is waiting to be referred to committee. If this bill becomes law, it will require Missouri law enforcement agencies to:
• Document pedestrian stops and requires that data collected via pedestrian stops be included in the Attorney General’s report.
• Adopt a written policy prohibiting bias-based policing, which should include officers undergoing a minimum of 8 hours of anti-bias policing training annually.
• Adopt various procedures aimed at decreasing bias in the administration of searches, including requiring police to document articulable facts for executing a search and requiring the officer to get voluntary consent from the person being searched.
• Submit to review by the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission if that agency’s data reveals patterns and practices of bias-based policing.
• Create community and law enforcement partnerships to build trust and understanding between officers and the public.
“We have years of stats that echo the DOJ’s findings and prove we have a bias-based policing problem in Missouri,” said Senator Chappelle-Nadal. “The Fair and Impartial Policing Act of 2015 provides solutions so we can begin to build trust between the police and the communities they serve.”
Michael T. McPhearson, co-chair of the “Don’t Shoot Coalition” and executive director for Veterans for Peace, said “The Department of Justice did a good job of investigating the Ferguson Police Department, but we all know that Ferguson is not alone and we are lobbying strongly for SB 559 because we need a fix that will affect our entire state.”
A Missouri bill enacted in August 2000 requires Missouri’s law enforcement agencies to collect racial data on vehicle stops and past reports can be found on the Missouri Attorney General’s website. Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, points out that “Pedestrian stops are currently not included in this report, but this needs to change so we can get a clearer picture of communities with problems. SB 559 requires that pedestrian stops would be included in the Attorney General’s annual report.”