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O’Fallon police chief announces resignation, cites new gun-rights law

O'Fallon Police Chief Philip G. Dupuis

O’Fallon, Missouri, Police Chief Philip Dupuis announced his resignation from the Department effective today. City Administrator Mike Snowden accepted Chief Dupuis’ resignation and named Major John Neske as the acting chief.

“We are sorry to see Chief Dupuis leave, but we understand why he has made this decision,” said Mayor Hennessy. “In his short time here, Chief Dupuis has made a tremendous impact on our Police Department. I am grateful to him and wish him the best, and I am confident that the brave men and women of the Department will continue to provide the highest levels of service to our community under the leadership of Acting Chief Neske.”

Chief Dupuis expressed concern over the poor wording and future unintended consequences of House Bill 85, citing that as the main reason for his sudden departure from the department. House Bill 85 was designed to protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms of Missouri Citizens and was recently signed into law by Governor Mike Parson. It creates a civil cause of action for when any law enforcement or municipal officer acts in a way that infringes on those rights. This provision is what concerns Chief Dupuis.

“I completely understand the motivation behind Missouri legislators’ desire to protect the gun rights of their citizenry,” said Chief Dupuis.  “I’m a strong proponent of the Second Amendment and have always respected those rights during my four decades in law enforcement. The problem with this statute is the poorly worded language that removes sovereign immunity and appears to allow law enforcement agencies and individual police officers to be sued for even good faith justified seizures of firearms in emergency circumstances.

“Every police department in the country seizes weapons during arrests for criminal activity or when they feel it is immediately necessary to protect someone who may be suicidal or threatening to harm others.  This statute allows that officer to be sued if the individual believes that seizure ‘infringed upon their second amendment rights.’ This vague language will create a flood of weaponized litigation that will chill the legitimate peace keeping duties of police. This will decrease public safety and increase frivolous lawsuits designed to harass and penalize good hard working law enforcement agencies.  Highly effective partnerships between local and federal law enforcement agencies will have to be reevaluated.

“I’m not willing to risk my family’s financial future on a poorly written piece of legislation that opens me and my fellow officers up to being sued even when they act lawfully and appropriately. In the current national environment of hostility towards law enforcement, the legislature appears to have handed anti-police activists a powerful weapon to abuse and torment law enforcement across the State of Missouri. They need to recognize their mistake and immediately go back to the drawing board.  Unfortunately, until they do, I am going to have to step away from a job I truly love.”

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