New study examines differences between city, municipal police departments

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A fact-finding group tasked to analyze a possible city-county merger is out with a report on the dozens of police jurisdictions in the region, which breaks down taxpayer cost compared to other cities in the Midwest.

The study, conducted by Better Together, found widespread differences in police departments. For example, Flordell Hills patrols 0.11 square miles and St. Louis County patrols 265 square miles.

The organization gathered information from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and 60 other police departments which provide services to 90 municipalities in St. Louis County.

The study shows wide differences in budgets, ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars, to over a hundred million dollars. Just as diverse are salaries, with police chiefs in some departments making less than the average salary for an officer in the region.

“You know, I think the biggest take away is we spend almost a half-billion dollars for police service in our region,” said Dave Leipholtz, chief architect of the Better Together study. “Per capita, that's about $100 more than Louisville spends and $100 more than Indianapolis would spend."

The data will be analyzed by the Washington D.C.-based Police Executive Research Forum, a private nonprofit group that studies police departments. That organization is expected to release recommendations next month, which could include an opinion on a city-county merger of police services.

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