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Proposals Would Mandate Body Cameras, Diversity Training; Limit Tear Gas Use By Cops

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Two St. Louis County lawmakers are proposing numerous reforms for law enforcement officers in Missouri in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, says changes are needed to "protect Missouri citizens from being abused by overzealous law enforcement." She's planning to file a bill that would:

  • Scale back the current "use of deadly force" laws in Missouri, allowing officers to use deadly force only in instances where a suspect poses a clear danger to the officer or the public.
  • Require a special prosecutor if a police officer shoots an unarmed citizen, or a police officer kills an unarmed citizen by any other means.
  • Require officers to wear accurate and visible identification with full names clearly displayed when law enforcement is deployed to a protest situation or a scene of civil unrest.
  • Bar law enforcement officers from "hog-tying" citizens or verbally degrading or making derogatory comments toward any peaceful protestors.
  • Require the governor, when he or she declares a state of emergency due to civil unrest, to immediately reassign and mobilize a sufficient number of state social workers, counselors and psychologists to the area.
  • Bar the deployment of tear gas unless the governor has declared a state of emergency and a neutral third party agency (such as Amnesty International) is on the scene to certify that the tear gas will be deployed in a humanitarian manner.
  • Require the governor, when he or she declares a state of emergency due to civil unrest, to concurrently contract with a neutral third party agency (such as Amnesty International) to immediately report any abuses of human, civil, and constitutional rights to the Missouri and United States attorney generals.
  • All law enforcement agencies in Missouri must be accredited by July 1, 2016.

State Rep. Sharon Pace, D-North County, is proposing legislation that would require diversity training and regular psychological evaluations for police officers. Both proposals by Pace and Chappelle-Nadal would also require officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
"Audio and video from cameras do not lie," Chappelle-Nadal said. "Too often the police tell one story, while the people tell another. Cameras with both audio and video will assist in settling controversial disputes."

The 2015 legislative session begins Jan. 7.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.