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Bill that limits use of chokeholds by police gets initial approval in Missouri House

Bill that limits use of chokeholds by police gets initial approval in Missouri House

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Shamed Dogan

State Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, speaks on the House floor on Friday, May 15, 2020. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Police reform legislation that includes limits on chokeholds received initial approval in the Missouri House on Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, would also make it a felony for a law enforcement officer to engage in sexual conduct with someone in custody.

Dogan’s proposal comes days after a jury found former police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of killing George Floyd by pressing a knee to his neck for more than nine minutes.

The legislation defines a chokehold as using any body part or object to put pressure on a person’s neck in order to restrict breathing. Chokeholds would still be allowed to protect the officer or another person from death or severe bodily harm.

Though the measure received some pushback from some of Dogan’s fellow Republicans in a House committee earlier this session, debate Monday was brief.

Dogan explained changes to the proposal, such as the addition of a “law enforcement bill of rights” that provides protections for officers under investigation for misconduct.

The bill also makes it a crime to direct a laser pointer at a uniformed officer or emergency worker.

But it increases backgrounding requirements in order to weed out problematic officers and creates a database related to excessive use of force.

Dogan framed the police accountability measures as an attempt to protect law enforcement overall.

“No one hates a bad law enforcement officer more than a good law enforcement officer,” he said.

Dogan’s proposal is House Bill 876.

Also on Monday, the House granted initial approval to House Bill 839, a proposal from Rep. Ron Coleman, R-Salem, that adds fingerprinting requirements for law enforcement.

But the House Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on a Senate bill that also addresses chokeholds and police officer sexual misconduct.

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