JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – After passing through the Senate, a measure to establish various provisions relating to public safety and the protection of police officers was heard in the House Committee on Crime Prevention on Monday.
SB 26, sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, aims to combat multiple safety issues faced across the country due to riots and unrest in recent years.
As many of the protests and riots interrupted vehicular traffic by taking place in the middle of streets and highways, this bill would create the offense of unlawful traffic interference. If a person is found guilty of this offense three separate times, they will be charged with a felony.
“This isn’t a free speech issue – it’s about safety,” Eigel said. “No one’s free speech comes at the cost of another’s personal physical security.”
Addressing the many instances of public property being damaged during the riots, this act would make it a Class E felony for an individual to knowingly vandalize any public monument or structure on public property.
This bill also includes due process protections for police officers accused of misconduct in the course of their duties.
“I want to make sure that when officers are accused of something, they get the same transparency and rights that any defendant would get when accused of a crime, “ Eigel said in a Facebook post detailing the bill.
This measure will also make a person ineligible for parole if they are found guilty of a dangerous felony where the victim is an on-duty law enforcement officer, firefighter, or an emergency service provider.
Furthermore, SB 26 includes provisions meant to protect funding for police departments after the “Defund the Police” movement recently led to several cities cutting funding for their law enforcement agencies.
After lawmakers, civil rights groups, and religious leaders voiced opposition, the House committee opted not to vote on the measure citing too many unresolved issues. A vote will likely be taken when the bill returns to the committee.