Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, pre-filed legislation for the upcoming session, which would protect law enforcement and their families. Senate Bill No. 129 would make it a felony for disclosing a police officer’s private or identifying information, such as phone numbers or addresses.
Luetkemeyer said he expects many different police reform bills from both Democrats and Republicans, due to the recent unrest and tension throughout the country.
“It’s no secret right now law enforcement officers feel like they’re under attack,” Luetkemeyer said. “We have situations where law enforcement officers have been attacked in the streets whenever they’re trying to preside over what starts as a peaceful protest and turns into a riot. This legislation is really motivated to make sure that we’re keeping our law enforcement officers protected.”
Luetkemeyer pointed to a specific incident outside the Kansas City Police Department as one of the reasons he filed this legislation.
“There was a protester out in front of the Kansas City Police Department, making threats to disclose personal information of a police officer and the location of their children’s school,” Luetkemeyer said.
Typically anti-doxxing legislation involves posting information online, such as a blog or social media, but Luetkemeyer said it can go as far as information being said aloud.
“I think you can publicize things by speaking to a group, by putting something on the internet, by putting posters all around town,” Luetkemeyer said. “There are many different ways to publicize that information.”
There are a number of anti-doxxing ordinances in cities throughout Missouri, but they are only considered violations and don’t require jail time. This state legislation would make it a felony with more significant punishment.
“We really need a state solution to this problem of law enforcement officers and their families being targeted by these groups,” Luetkemeyer said. “Because without the threat of a felony, I think it’s going to be very difficult to make sure that these types of behaviors end up stopping.”
The legislation is clear that disclosing a law enforcement officer’s personal information is illegal, but intent of threatening, harassing or intimidating the officer has to be proven.
“The triggering event is that you have to intend to use it for the purpose of intimidating, harassing an officer,” Luetkemeyer said. “So if you said, ‘Hey, this officer has been shot, they are at a particular hospital, we’re all sending a get-well card to this hospital.’ Your intent is not to intimidate or harass the officer, it’s to be supportive of law enforcement. That would not be a crime.
“The reason that we put the intent element in there is we want to make sure that we’re not running afoul of First Amendment free speech concerns, and so making sure that somebody intends to use the information for purposes of intimidating, harassing a police officer,” Luetkemeyer said. “That intent element is what we believe makes this constitutional under the First Amendment.”
This bill will be considered during the First Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly, which begins Jan. 6.