County Executive Stenger squares off with municipalities over uniformed policing

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) - It’s a bill aimed at providing uniform policing policies for St. Louis County municipalities.  Critics of the bill being considered by the St. Louis County Council voiced concerns during a special meeting Tuesday.  Opponents do not believe St. Louis County has the authority to enforce it.

“We just don’t believe that St. Louis County has the authority to oversee regulations within municipal government,” said Patrick Kelly, St. Louis Municipal League Executive Director.  He said his organization opposes the measure.

County Executive Steve Stenger has been pushing for uniformed standards.  He’s called policing a public health issue.  St. Louis County has the authority to enforce public health matters in municipalities within St. Louis County.

“We are able to make legislation that impacts countywide when it’s related to health,” said Stenger. “I believe there’s nothing more closely tied to public health than policing.”

“All the municipal attorneys that we have talked to believe that that would be a stretch,” said Kelly.

The differing legal opinions could lead to legal challenges, if the ordinance is ever approved.

The St. Louis Area Police Chief’s Association opposes the measure.  Overland Police Chief Tim Laws says his organization welcomes uniformed standards, but says the state of Missouri already provides certain requirements.

“There’s no reason for the County to come in and put another layer of requirements over what we already have,” said Laws.

Stenger says he believes citizens deserve standards that in some cases exceed current state requirements.

“I just think that it’s really important that if we’re going to move forward as a community that we move forward together and that everyone should have equal access to quality law enforcement,” said Stenger.