St. Louis County chief criticizes police co-ops

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VINITA PARK (KTVI) – Are new police cooperatives the right way to patrol St. Louis County neighborhoods? Not according to the St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who penned an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, claiming the co-ops are a bad idea.

While Belmar did not single out the new north county police cooperative formed by Vinita Park after Wellston dissolved its force last month, his comments certainly apply to the newly formed force, and to other communities that might consider a similar arrangement.

Belmar said these smaller departments rely heavily on reserve officers, which artificially inflates the number of officers to citizens. He adds that often those officers are inadequately trained and they don't solve the problems pointed out in the Department of Justice report that followed the unrest in Fergson.

According to Belmar, the region needs a stable police department with the necessary resources that focus on public safety, not generating revenue from traffic fines and tickets to prop up small city governments.

The chief said his county department is best-suited for a more highly trained regional police force.

Fox 2 tried to reach the chief of the Vinita Park Police Department to get reaction to the Belmar’s op-ed, but he did not want to get into an on-camera back and forth but he says the new co-op here is working. It's not raising significant revenue from traffic fines and tickets.