Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens fought back tears Thursday as he explained why it was important for him to sign a measure creating a system to swiftly notify the public when an on-duty police officer is wounded.
The Republican recounted the case of St. Louis police Sgt. Thomas Lake, who was shot in the face in November. Greitens said that Lake’s five-year-old son becomes frightened every time he sees his father leaving the house in his police uniform because “if Tom is wearing a uniform, he’s going to be hurt again.”’
“The fact is, we need to stand for Tom, and his kids, and his family. And it’s not just Tom,” he said. “The fact is, it’s getting more dangerous to be a police officer in the United States of America. They step in the dark to do dangerous work, and we need to do what we can to support them.”
The law takes effect statewide on Aug. 28. Greitens was joined by dozens of police recruits at a police training facility in Pagedale.
Aside from publicizing attacks against police on social media and news outlets, the Blue Alert law also calls for stiffer penalties against people who assault police.
Later in the news conference, the governor blamed the rise in attacks against police on what he called the “Ferguson effect,’’ referring to the 2014 unrest that followed 18-year-old Michael Brown being shot and killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.
“As part of the Ferguson Effect, what’s happened is that law enforcement officers haven’t felt like they’ve been supported by their communities. They haven’t been supported by their elected officials,” Greitens said. “And they haven’t been out engaging in their communities the way they used to.”
Some legal experts and public officials have said there isn’t a Ferguson effect, pointing instead to a lack of jobs and tensions between police and communities.
Greitens again criticizes national news outlets
Greitens also defended a new video that he posted on Twitter late Wednesday accusing national news outlets like Newsweek and Feministing.com of intentionally reporting inaccurate accounts of a bill being debated in the current special session.
Lawmakers are expected to return to the state Capitol to continue debate in July 24. Greitens said the measure is aimed at protecting pregnancy care centers, which discourage women from having abortions, and contends the centers could be hurt by a St. Louis provision that bars employers or landlords from discriminating against women who are pregnant, have had abortions or use birth control.
Greitens said the outlets are “lying” by claiming that the bill also will curb women’s rights to contraception.
“There are a few specific liberal media organizations who actually printed fake news," he said.
Greitens noted that his video did not single out Missouri news outlets, which he said at least tried to be accurate.
Greitens expanded his call for lawmakers to pass abortion legislation during the current special session, for which legislators won't return in full until July 24. He wants to addprovisions that he didn't explicitly include in his original call, such as asking lawmakers to make it a crime for abortion clinic staff to ask ambulances to respond to calls without sirens or lights. He had previously called for a ban, but didn't spell out that he wants it to be an offense.
Greitens' spokesman Parker Briden told The Associated Press that the goal is to ensure additions made to a draft House bill could survive potential legal challenges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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