Missouri Senate approves bill to increase penalties against protesters and creates a bill of rights for officers

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Early Tuesday morning, Missouri Senators moved forward with a bill that would charge protestors for blocking a public street or highway and adds a bill of rights for law enforcement officers.

Senators finished debating the sweeping law enforcement bill just after 1 a.m. Tuesday. Senate Bill 26 is being sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, R – St. Charles County, and increases the penalties for an individual who endangers a first responder from responding to a call. Another part of the bill creates an offense for protestors who block traffic on public streets, highways or interstates. The first offense would be an infraction, a second violation would be a class B misdemeanor and any other violations would be a class E felony. Added early Tuesday morning to the bill, any offense that is done during an “unlawful assembly,” which is six or more people, the first offense is an infraction, the second is a class A misdemeanor and a third violation is a class D felony. 

The measure also adds a “bill of rights” for law enforcement officers by protecting officers who are under investigation by notifying him or her of the alleged violation and who would be conducting the investigation. Also, the questioning of the officer would only happen while on duty. 

The bill also allows taxpayers to go to court if local governments in their municipality try to decrease their police budget by 12 percent or more over a five-year aggregate amount. 

Eigel’s bill was perfected by the Senate and awaits final approval. 

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