ST. LOUIS – Lawmakers in the St. Louis and Kansas City area want to stop local governments from defunding the state’s two largest police departments.
Combined, the St. Louis City and Kansas City police departments are down more than 300 officers. Both cities plan to cut its police departments budget and lawmakers want to put a stop to it and that’s why they are asking the governor to order legislators back to the capital city.
State Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) and other Missouri lawmakers are asking Gov. Mike Parson to call for a special session to discuss public safety. The lawmakers also want a special session to discuss local governments defunding police departments in high-crime areas like St. Louis and Kansas City.
“Our state’s two largest cities are in crisis right now due to crime. A special session is the only way to address this issue to keep people safe and ensure law enforcement officers have the tools needed to keep the community safe,” Schroer said.
For the second week in a row, Republican lawmakers in one of the state’s largest cities want their colleagues back in Jefferson City.
“Truly worried, that by taking resources away from our law enforcement officers especially when they need it the most, violent crime with skyrocket,” Schroer said.
In the past month, Kansas City Council agreed to cut $42 million out of Kansas City Police Department’s budget, moving that money to the community services fund. Mayor Quinton Lucas said it will prevent crime. The City of St. Louis proposed a spending plan in May that cuts $4 million from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s budget. Instead, the money would go to homeless services and affordable housing.
“With all these reports of out-of-control crime, it has become abundantly clear that it is difficult now to attract new businesses and new investments in our state,” Schroer said.
Last week, a handful of Republican lawmakers in the Kansas City area called on the governor for a special session to address the budget cut to the Kansas City Police Department.
Schroer said we must defend law enforcement officers from the calls in our own backyards to defund police while ensuring cities attempting to do so face consequences.
He also said if St. Louis City and its prosecutor, Kim Gardner, do not get serious about arresting criminals and prosecuting cases against them he said he would push for the state to take back local control.
“To send a message to the City of St. Louis and the city attorney Kimberly Gardner, if the city does not get serious about arresting criminals and prosecuting those cases against them, I myself will push for the state to take back control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Schroer said.
He also said St. Louis and Kansas City were two of the most deadly cities across the nation in 2020. He said St. Louis had its worse homicide rate in 50 years with 262 murders. Kansas City also set a record with 180 murders.
Rep. Richard West (R-Wentzville) said he was a former dispatcher for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Instead of criminal justice reform, he wants criminal reform.
“We need to start holding these criminals accountable for the decisions they are making that are putting our officers in the position to make the decisions that they have to make,” West said. “Why does it have to be, we have to get something passed? How about parents start teaching their children to obey the law, parents start teaching their children to obey a police officer.”
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones released a statement after Schroer’s press conference saying:
“St. Louis voters elected me to put the public back in public safety, and I’m willing to work with elected leaders who are ready to have hard conversations about the deep-rooted problems we face. But the proposed special session would be government overreach and a waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when all of us can least afford it.
Rep. Schroer is chasing clout while I’m chasing solutions. I am extending an open invitation to Rep. Schroer and his colleagues to visit North St. Louis and see firsthand why my administration is investing directly into neighborhoods to address the root causes of crime.”MAYOR JONES
Wednesday evening, both Jones and the Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a joint statement to the call for a special session:
“Today’s grandstanding doesn’t make our communities any safer. As mayors of Missouri’s two largest cities, we are committed to collaborating with anyone willing to offer real solutions and investment to address the underlying conditions that lead to crime—poverty, lack of mental health services, housing instability, and more.
“Republican lawmakers on the outskirts of our communities calling for a special legislative session are offering no real solutions. Instead, they are advocating away the right of St. Louis and Kansas City residents to make decisions for our own communities.
“Both of us have committed to visiting each other’s respective cities to speak with those most affected by disinvestment—primarily in traditionally minority neighborhoods—and to discuss solutions to benefit the people of St. Louis, Kansas City, and all of Missouri. We again extend that same invitation to any elected leader who is serious about having truthful conversations about what actually makes our communities safer.”MAYOR JONES
Gov. Mike Parson’s office said there has been no decision on if there will be a special session. A spokesperson for the governor did say in a statement:
“Governor Parson believes in law and order, which means there must be brave men and women in uniform willing to enforce the law and protect victims. It is imperative that communities support our law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to keep Missourians safe. Any effort to defund the police is dangerous and irresponsible.”