Sen. Dave Schatz’s Legislative Column for April 1, 2021

Standing Up for the Thin Blue Line

Every day, the men and women of law enforcement wake up, put on their uniforms, hug their families goodbye and head to a job where they don’t know if the day’s events will allow them to return to their loved ones. Law enforcement is a noble profession, and the men and women who make up the thin blue line are often all that stands between law-abiding citizens and criminals, between law and order. As a lawmaker, I am proud to do everything I can to support these brave individuals, because their selfless actions do more than just keep us safe, they allow our communities to flourish.

Unfortunately, the members of our law enforcement community are facing increasing levels of violence for simply trying to do their jobs. Throughout our country, FBI statistics indicate that assaults against law enforcement officers are increasing. In 2014, the FBI reported there were more than 48,000 assaults committed against members of the law enforcement community. In 2018, that number rose to more than 58,800 assaults. Meanwhile, there are individuals throughout our country calling for police departments to be defunded — providing good reason for law enforcement officers to feel threatened and under attack. From where I stand, these men and women are heroes, and they deserve our respect and support.

Here in Missouri, my colleagues and I are taking a stand for those who proudly wear the badge and do everything they can to keep us safe. In February, the Missouri Senate passed Senate Bill 26. This public safety measure denies probation to dangerous felons who harm police officers and first responders. In response to calls throughout our country to defund police departments, SB 26 protects police budgets from drastic cuts. In addition, the legislation includes a “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights,” which I believe will strengthen due process rights for officers involved in internal investigations.

On Monday, March 29, the Missouri Senate passed another public safety measure designed to address officer shortages in one of our state’s largest police departments. Similar to legislation passed in 2020 that relaxed the residency requirement for police officers working in St. Louis, Senate Bill 53 allows the Kansas City Police Department to employ officers who live outside the city limits. The legislation also includes language making it a crime to publicly expose the private information of a police officer in an attempt to harass or intimidate the officer or their family. The practice of “doxing” is currently a misdemeanor in Missouri, but SB 53 increases the penalty to a felony when police officers are targeted.

As a lawmaker, I believe one of the most important functions of government is the safety of its citizens. I cannot imagine the courage it takes to wear the badge for one day, let alone for an entire career. Yet, these brave men and women constantly answer the call to protect and serve, to run toward danger and not away from it. For them, it is just another day on the job, but for everyone else, their selfless actions keep us safe and ensure law and order is maintained in our communities. I am proud to stand with the members of law enforcement, and I vow to continue to support them in any way possible.

It is an honor to serve our community in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns about state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at — we are honored to serve you.