The Missouri House has passed a plan to make the Capitol safer for those who work and visit it.
One provision of House Bill 784 would allow the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem to appoint marshals in their respective chambers. These marshals would have at least five years of experience in law enforcement, be licensed as a peace officer, and have to have continued training as required by the Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training commission.
Bill sponsor Lane Roberts (R-Joplin), a former Joplin Police chief and former director of the Department of Public Safety, said the agencies responsible for Capitol security are “fragmented” and the legislature needs a security force that falls under its control.
“It’s sad that in this particular day and time we would have to do a thing like this, but given the environment that we unfortunately had to watch in Washington D.C. it’s a prudent move. These individuals would be focused on the security of the two chambers and the membership,” said Roberts.
Another provision would move control of the Capitol Police out of the Department of Public Safety and to a new Capitol Police Board. Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) has been working on this plan for several years. He shares Roberts’ concern that the public officials who work in the Capitol have no say in its security.
“This is just one of those steps that we are taking forward to make sure that the safety and security of the people that visit this building, not to mention ourselves and our families that come to visit us, are safe and secure in this building. As you know we’ve been left alone in this building as far as our security and our safety goes,” said Hicks.
The new Capitol Police Board would be made up of members appointed by the House Speaker, the Senate President, the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, and the chair of the State Capitol Commission.
The proposal now goes to the Senate.
Baringer = (BARE-in-jerr)