Nixon Calls for Police Reform, Community Building In Ferguson During State of the State Address
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Nixon Calls for Police Reform, Community Building In Ferguson During State of the State Address

Date: January 21, 2015
By: Jill Ornitz
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon presented Missouri lawmakers in his State of the State address a broad set of recommendations to address issues raised by issues raised by Ferguson.

"The legacy of Ferguson will be determined by what we do next, to foster healing and hope and the changes we make to strengthen all of our communities", Nixon told a joint session of the legislature Wednesday night, January 21.

Cheers of "right, that's right!" could be heard in the House chamber as Nixon talked about Ferguson.

While Nixon's proposals addressed issues raised by various sides, his address came under attack from opposing sides.

Gov. Jay Nixon called for changes in police use of force and strengthening communities across the state. But two black lawmakers said Nixon's plan did not go far enough and a Republican legislative leader voiced concerns about using police as an "escape goat."

Nixon proposed a number of changes:

Nixon, who addressed a majority white audience in the Missouri House of Representatives, spoke of the importance of fostering trust in Ferguson.

"I don't think we can make law enforcement a scapegoat in this," said House Speaker John Deihl, R-St. Louis County. "That men and women, who government policies and government officials put on the front lines to do the job, should and deserve all the tools to protect themselves and do their jobs."

On the other side, two state senators who represent communities in the St. Louis area described the governor's proposals as all talk and no substance.

"You know what, the governor talks from both sides of his mouth," said Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis City. "He talks the talk but he doesn't walk the walk."

Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-St. Louis County, called Nixon's proposals to address police powers in using lethal force "right on," but she talked about the need for mental health reform for Ferguson protesters.

"Until we deal with mental health issues surrounding human disasters, we're not going to fully address the issues that surround Ferguson," Chapelle-Nadal said.

The governor also stressed the importance of creating economic opportunities and encouraging personal responsibility in Ferguson. He received a stating ovation when he said how proud he was of Missouri's law enforcement officers.

Nasheed said she was unimpressed with Nixon's comments.

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