State Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) says he’ll introduce legislation this year making an assault or attempted murder of a law officer a hate crime.
Speaking at the Greene County Sheriff’s Office in Springfield Thursday, Parson said recent events across the nation are leading us down a “path of destruction” if we don’t rally behind law enforcement.
“If you’re gonna target somebody simply because they’re wearing a uniform, there’s no other reason but because you hate that person. And that needs to be part of the hate crimes of the state of Missouri,” said Parson.
Parson’s comments come in the wake of the killings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, as well as incidents severely injuring an officer in Ballwin, Missouri and killing one in Kansas City, Kansas.
“Never in my lifetime as a law enforcement officer with over 20 years in that field, have seen law enforcement officers be targeted simply because they wear a uniform,” Sen. Parson says.
Parson believes the new legislation – which brings stiffer penalties for those convicted of a hate crime - will act as a deterrent for people planning to commit crimes against law enforcement.
“No one person, no handful of people should be able to take the law or to serve justice because they think injustices has been served somewhere else,” Sen. Parson adds.
While Greene County has not been subject to the violent protests seen elsewhere, Sheriff Jim Arnott says that the issues for law enforcement started in Ferguson, Missouri and have grown worse.
Arnott added, “What we need to do is send a message from the state of Missouri, from Jefferson City, that says it’s not going to happen in this state ever again. And that’s why those laws need to be on the book and that’s why it’s important that this gets passed.”
He said that officers are more cautions of everyday activities while in uniform and policing tactics are changing.
“You’ll see things be a little different. Policing is going to change and it’s already started to change, and you’ll see it as we go on,” Sheriff Arnott states.
Arnott hinted at recruitment efforts being impacted due to recent events, a problem Parson thinks will grow if more protections aren’t created for officers.
The Republican senator said Thursday his main focus is finding the best solution to violence against officers, noting others throughout the state are taking actions to quell the social differences driving some of these conflicts. He was unaware, however, of any such legislation on the social front currently in the works.
Asked if his proposal is in response to protests by the Black Lives Matter movement, Parson said it didn’t matter who was protesting, as long as they are doing it legally. He would later say that all lives matter, regardless of race.
Parson is a past sheriff of Polk County. He recalled his feelings after losing an officer in the line of duty that he recruited, and noted another officer of his that was shot six times during an altercation. The former sheriff also lost his brother-in-law, an EMT, in the line of duty.
“So I don’t think there’s anybody probably in the state capitol that understands as much as I do about the risk that law enforcement takes and the duties that they do to serve the people of the state of Missouri.”
Parson is seeking the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in next month’s primary, but stated at Thursday’s press conference he was there in his official capacity as a state senator.