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O’Fallon police chief resigns, cites new gun law

O’Fallon Police Chief Philip G. Dupuis announced his resignation on Friday, June 18. City Administrator Mike Snowden accepted Dupuis’ resignation and named Maj. John Neske as acting chief.  

O’Fallon Police Chief Philip Dupuis (Source: City of O’Fallon)

“We are sorry to see Chief Dupuis leave, but we understand why he has made this decision,” Mayor Bill Hennessy said in an official release. “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.”

Dupuis cited the reason for his departure as concerns over House Bill 85, which was designed to protect Missouri citizens’ Second Amendment right to bear arms and was recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson. The provisions create a civil cause of action for times when any law enforcement or municipal officer acts in a way that infringes on those rights.

Dupuis expressed concern over the wording and potential consequences of the new gun law.

“I completely understand the motivation behind Missouri legislators’ desire to protect the gun rights of their citizenry,” Dupuis said. “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 peacekeeping 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 toward 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.”

Dupuis said he hopes lawmakers “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,” he said.

Dupis has over 36 years of law enforcement experience. After having served as the interim chief of the O’Fallon Police Department since October 2020, the council ratified the mayor’s appointment of him to the police chief position in January. His career began in Panorama Village, Texas, where he started as a 19-year-old officer. He then moved to the Conroe (Texas) Police Department where he served for 33 years.

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