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Missouri Legislative Black Caucus Calls On Leaders To Pass Police Body Camera Bill

Cody Newill
Rep. Brandon Ellington (far right) stands among nine other members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus at a town hall Saturday.

Ten members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus held a town hall at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts in Kansas City Saturday to let community members know about some of the bills they've been working on in the 2015 session.

Frustration was evident from both the lawmakers and the several dozen attendees. Although some of the Caucus members' measures have been supported by the Republican-dominated legislature, nearly all the lawmakers talked about difficulties with conservative leaders in both chambers.

Rep. Brandon Ellington is the Black Caucus' chairman. Before the 2015 legislative session, he made optimistic remarks about the coming year. But now, he feels that minorities have been left behind by legislative leaders.

"This year we've had so many issues: cutting unemployment benefits, compensation, going after TANF people," Ellington said. "We've passed no bills that actually benefit anybody, the only thing we've done is figure out new ways to put extra burdens on people in the state."

One of the key pieces of legislation that Ellington has pushed for is a measure requiring police officers to wear body cameras. But the bills haven't moved past committee.

"[Legislative leaders] don't want to work on anything that would be seen as anti-police," Ellington said. "Video and audio equipment isn't anti-police, it's actually pro-prosecution if somebody is doing something illegal."

Other notable measures brought up include Sen. Shalonn "Kiki" Curls' bill that would ease requirements for criminal expungement and Rep. Randy Dunn's bill that would create more grocery stores in urban areas.

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