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St. Louis County police union concerned about board member nominee’s social media posts

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. - The St. Louis County Police Association is raising concerns about one of the Board of Police commissioner nominees.

The county council is scheduled to make a final vote next Tuesday but the police union plans to make a statement against her approval.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page nominated Dr. Laurie Punch as one of the people on the board who could ultimately supervise the police chief, who supervises thousands of employees. The issue stems from Facebook posts she made that they feel show passion and emotion instead of objectivity.

Punch is an associate professor of surgery at Washington University focusing on education in gun violence management and prevention.

“We totally respect to Dr. Paige’s ability to appoint a new member to the St. Louis County Board of Police Commission," said Joe Patterson, the executive director of the St. Louis County Police Association. “It’s a process that we didn’t plan on being involved in.”

However, after a look at her social media posts and comments with others, Patterson said members feel the need to intervene with her approval and that the posts are troubling.

“We think that Dr. Punch is an excellent surgeon and a qualified individual, however, our concerns are that there’s bias and maybe even sort of jumping to conclusions or a lack of objectivity which concerns on membership,” Patterson said.

Patterson said commentary that sparked the most concern stemmed from a post regarding the deadly officer-involved shooting of Terry Tillman at the Galleria Mall back in September.

She wrote that “guns are an expression of hate,” and encouraged people to put them down to prevent them from being used as an excuse to be killed.

“St. Louis prosecutorial attorney has not yet come to a conclusion if there was or was not a crime committed,” Patterson said.

In the comments, she responded, “If extreme gun control comes into play before the Black community changes its relationship to guns, it will give law enforcement free rein to murder any Black person they even think has a gun regardless of behavior.”

Patterson said the shooting is still under investigation, and the concern is Punch putting calling the shooting a murder and putting passion before objectivity and facts.

“We need someone that’s prepared to step back and be patient and when all the facts good bad or ugly come out,” Patterson said. “Judge them based on just the facts with no emotion and make the right decision in an objective manner to lead this department forward.”

FOX 2 reached out to Punch for commentary and are still waiting to hear back. Page’s office said they had no additional comments at this time.

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