Promoting Public Safety by Standing Up for Our Rights
It seems like every time we turn on the news, we hear about another shooting or an act of violence somewhere in our country. These are terrible and despicable acts, and my heart goes out to every community and individual that has endured one of these tragedies. In order to address these acts of violence, the Missouri Senate formed the Interim Committee on Public Safety. This interim committee has been tasked with looking at ways to improve public safety throughout Missouri. As the vice-chairwoman of this committee, I believe there are steps our state can take to improve public safety and decrease violent crimes; however, we must be absolutely certain that these steps do not go too far and trample on the constitutional rights of our fellow citizens.
During the committee’s first hearing, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers and numerous other individuals presented their suggestions on how to address these issues. Several of these individuals presented practical ways to address violent crime throughout our state. Unfortunately, I believe others simply wanted to talk about ways to restrict our citizens’ Second Amendment rights. In my opinion, ideas such as “red flag” laws are not the answer to our state’s public safety issues. The idea of allowing someone’s Second Amendment rights to be taken away before a crime is even committed is wrong and unconstitutional.
Instead, our state should be focused on issues such as improving mental health and addressing drug-related violence. We must do everything we can to destigmatize mental health issues and encourage those who are struggling to reach out and seek help. In addition, I believe our state needs to provide law enforcement with the tools they need to get drugs off of our streets. Whether it’s improving retention rates among law enforcement officers or promoting programs that reduce recidivism rates among offenders, we must give law enforcement the help they need to keep our communities safe.
I would like to thank B.J. Johnson, Craig Heidemann and David Muir for taking time out of their busy schedules and providing their unique insight into the public safety issues facing our state. I am grateful they chose to participate in the legislative process, and I am hopeful that the testimony they provided will play a role in the legislative solutions developed by the committee. As we move forward, I will continue to support solutions that increase awareness for mental health issues and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to do their jobs. I do not, and will not support any legislation that infringes upon your Second Amendment rights in the name of public safety. I firmly believe the right to keep and bear arms is critical to the self-defense of every Missourian.
Governor Tours New Bridge Project in Callaway County
On Nov. 14, I was proud to join the governor as he visited the site of the new Route D bridge over Interstate 70 in Callaway County. Built in 1963, the current bridge is a vital part of our community. The 56-year-old bridge sees more than 1,400 vehicles per day, and is especially busy during harvest season as farmers frequently use the bridge to move their crops to market. While construction of the replacement bridge is scheduled to begin in 2020, I am thankful to the governor for visiting our community and promoting this project. Our economy relies on safe roads and bridges, and projects like this one are chiefly important to maintaining our state’s transportation infrastructure.
Establishing Statewide Training Standards for Coroners
Many people do not realize, but Missouri is one of 11 states that doesn’t require its county coroners to be physicians, law enforcement officers or even receive training. Current state law incentivizes training, but doesn’t require coroners to receive any formal education after they take the oath of office. As a result, the training level of our county coroners is inconsistent. To remedy this situation, I have pre-filed Senate Bill 554. This legislation establishes the Coroner Standards and Training Commission. This commission will establish statewide training standards for county coroners throughout Missouri. By creating this commission, I believe we can improve training standards and create better, more qualified coroners.
This legislation is one of my top priorities for the upcoming legislative session. While I have been working on this issue for many years, I believe we owe it to the citizens of our state to hold these county officials to a higher standard. Through SB 554, I am confident the Coroner Standards and Training Commission will ensure our coroners receive the training necessary to successfully perform their jobs.
As we begin the holiday season, I pray that each of you find your own moment of peace during this busy time of year. Between the parties, the shopping and what feels like a never-ending to-do list, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmastime, and lose sight of the true meaning of the season. Christmas offers us the opportunity to celebrate God’s greatest gift — the birth of his son Jesus Christ. Each of us has fallen short in this cruel world, but God sent us grace — in the form of an innocent babe. On that holy night in Bethlehem, God sent his son into this world to become flesh and save each of us from our sins. As we rush from one party to another, I pray that we never lose sight of this glorious and wonderful gift from our Creator.
My staff and I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.