Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered a state commission to overhaul police training in Missouri by Dec. 1 in the hope of reducing officer-involved shootings, improving community relationships and teaching officers to cope better with the emotional rigors of the job, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nixon's announcement comes months after the Ferguson Commission, which he appointed about a year ago after a Ferguson officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown called for a massive increase in hours of police training.
The number of hours and types of training required by the state for police officer continuing education has barely changed since 1996. The length of police academy basic training required in the state's bigger counties has essentially stagnated, too, at 600 hours, since 1979. “We've got to update our training,” Nixon said yesterday at the St. Louis Police Academy. “We all know a lot has changed since 1996.” Officers have, at times, become “revenue agents,” he said. Nixon said the new requirements, coupled with ongoing municipal court reform, will represent a “significant shift” in law enforcement in Missouri. Ferguson Commission co-chairmen, the Rev. Starsky Wilson and Rich McClure, who attended the news conference, called the changes “critical.”