JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Governor Mike Parson has called for a special legislative session to address violent crime. Part of that session would include discussion and action on police reform.
Missouri Senator Brian Williams sent a letter to Parson persuading the governor to address a bill that Williams believes will help the public and police.
“As the only Black male in the senate, it’s extremely personal to me,” Williams said. “I know first-hand the systemic racism and I know first-hand how there’s a lack of trust in the community when it comes to policing.”
Williams will be filing legislation requiring all police officers to carry an occupational license, like many professionals in the state. They would have to meet a minimum and uniform training standard before hitting the streets.
“I think it protects police officers and ensures officers have quality training and ensures the community knows they’re in good hands when it comes to law enforcement,” he said.
Williams said Governor Parson is open for the possibility of change. But for reform to be discussed, the state legislature needs to vote on reconvening, which isn’t a certainly yet.
But Williams said the issue isn’t going away.
“I’ve had numerous talks with the ACLU, activists, Republican and Democratic colleagues, and we’ve come to a conclusion that it’s time Missouri move in a new direction for police reform,” he said.
Williams said his bill will also allow for officers who are doing the right thing to call out bad actors and gain trust in the community.
“If we have a community feeling comfortable and safe talking with law enforcement, a lot more information will come forward about folks in the community committing crimes,” he said.