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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed bills that allow first responders in St. Louis City to live outside the city and more protections for crime victims.

The state Senate passed House Bill 46 on September 2, 2020. It says no police or public safety workers shall be subject to a residency rule.

House Bill 66 creates a witness protection fund that law enforcement agencies can use to provide resources for the security of victims and witnesses and their immediate families.

“We have a serious problem with violent crime here in Missouri, and we have seen it escalate even more in recent months. HB 66 and HB 46 are valuable tools that will build on our efforts to combat violent crime, support law enforcement officers, and make our communities safer,” writes Gov. Mike Parson on Facebook.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association reports there are about 1,215 officers currently. The department has a budget for about 1,400, leaving the department 187 short.

There have been more St. Louis homicides in 2020 than all of 2019, putting the state on track to have its deadliest year on record.

HCS HB 46 brings the City of St. Louis in line with every other law enforcement agency and jurisdiction in the entire St. Louis region that do not have residency requirements. It is also one tool we can use to address public safety at a time when the City of St. Louis has already seen more than 180 homicides this year while our police department remains stretched thin by a continued shortage of more than 140 officers.