JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Mike Parson put pen to paper Wednesday inside the Missouri State Capitol, signing off on a large public safety package.

With more than 40 provisions in this one piece of legislation, there are multiple measures aimed at the law enforcement community. Besides raising the minimum number of basic training hours needed to become a licensed police officer, the state is also mandating a 40-hour training course for new police chiefs.

“We see it across the state that a lot of chiefs get into these positions, and they have no clue what they are supposed to be doing,” executive director of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association Robert Shockey said. “When you become the chief, it’s your ballgame now.”

The goal is to better prepare the top dog for anything thrown his or her way. It’s part of a new law the governor ceremonially signed Wednesday, requiring new police chiefs to take a 40-hour class within the first six months on the job.

“We get those calls every week and this is going to help give them some insight, not in depth, but at least in touch a little—so when it hits their table, they know at least where to look,” Shockey said. “We believe this training is going to make them better, more professional, keep their department professional and keep the department out of trouble.”

That provision is part of a larger bill that requires marijuana facilities to submit background checks on their employees, criminalizes porch pirates for stealing packages and classifies 911 dispatchers as first responders.

“They are the ones on the front lines that receive that call and their training, their responsibility is just essential to how that call goes for the rest of the time,” Parson said. “If those people aren’t trained to be able to do that, someone loses their life.”

Previously, dispatchers had been classified as doing administrative or clerical work. This change opens up more resources and mental health options for dispatchers.

Another change in state statute under this new law is raising the minimum number of basic training hours needed to become a licensed law enforcement officer.

“With the changing society, we have to provide the best training possible for our officers,” Eureka Police Chief Michael Wiegand said. “The more is better in this circumstance. The minimum of 600 hours is better to make sure our officers are well-trained to function in any police department in the state.”

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) said all Missouri academies went through 600 hours of training voluntarily in 2007.

There is also a measure within the new law for the state to offer more money in reimbursement programs and scholarships to help future officers attend a policy academy.

“Every police department, police chief, or command staff officer in the hallway here we’re all talking about how short we are and how much money we are paying, but yet we can’t get recruits to come into our department,” Wiegand said.

The Blue Scholarship is a direct payment of up to $5,000 that becomes available the day the recruit enters a training academy. There is $2 million in funding for the scholarship, $1 million more than last year. As of the end of August, 37 Blue Scholarships had been paid out for a total of $158,900. A spokesperson for DPS said there are another 144 applications.

The new law removes the age cap for the Kansas City Police Department chief of police and the salary cap for all officers in the KCPD.

“We took those caps out of statute, hoping that the Police Board of Commissioners is going to hopefully, sooner rather than later, introduce the most competitive pay scale for the Kansas City Police Department in the Kansas City Metro area,” Rep. Chris Brown, R-Kansas City, said.

On the other side of the state, there’s a provision to help deal with workforce issues in St. Louis City, by lifting the residency requirement for city workers.

“Now, anyone who lives within one hour of the city can apply for any city department and hopefully that will alleviate some of the workforce issues,” Rep. Travis Wilson, R-St. Charles said. “We’re trying to help broaden that potential hiring pool.”

Another provision in Senate Bill 186 establishes a policy for the Missouri Department of Corrections to provide exonerees with birth certificates, Social Security cards, and a state ID prior to being released.