SOUTH ROXANA, Ill. – When area law enforcement makes an arrest, or local prosecutors file charges or land a conviction, they’ll typically alert the public and media with a news release. Late Wednesday afternoon, a police chief in Madison County, Illinois slipped in a criticism of prosecutors in St. Louis City at the end of a press statement about an unrelated matter.
South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles said he typically handles the press releases for his department. While writing a release about an East Alton man charged with DUI and fleeing police, Chief Coles offered a surprising rebuke of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
As you can tell by the charging document, we are fortunate to live in Madison County with such a strong and supportive State’s Attorney’s Office, who help protect our police officers and keep our communities safe.
This is not the case in nearby areas like St Louis City and how the police officers are treated. Where criminal actions have no consequences. This mentality brings the criminal element to our communities as they try to take advantage of our citizens.
Without a strong supportive prosecutor’s office it not only jeopardized the communities across the river and but increase the crime rate in our towns.Statement from South Roxana Police Chief Bob Coles
Coles’ remarks came 24 hours after prosecutors with the ciruit attorney’s office accused St. Louis police officers of lying about an attempted carjacking.
Coles believes the sour relationship between the circuit attorney’s office and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Departmnt is a “major contributing factor” in the rise in crime in the city.
“When you have a national movement of various elected officials trying to politicize and vilianize police and the job they perform under the circumstances given, it makes officers less pro active, more concerned for their safety, because of the hesitation of not feeling supported,” he said. “And statements made by prosecutors saying they don’t trust the police. That is nothing more than gaslighting police officers and trying to get the public to sway to their biased viewpoints.”
When asked if he shared a similar opinion of St. Louis County and its prosecutor, Wesley Bell, Coles said he hadn’t noticed.
“I don’t see the same sort of problem with the county as I do with the city. The city has had ongoing issues with the prosecutor’s office for years,” he said, adding he’s known good officers in both departments.
The chief claims South Roxana, with a population just below 1,900 people, has had to deal with “violent and armed offenders from across the river” and his officers “have chased 13- and 14-year-old children from St. Louis City who were armed with assault rifles stealing cars in our county.”
Coles said he does not think police deserve the blame for larger societal problems and that it’s in everyone’s best interest for prosecutors, politicians, and law enforcement to be on the same page and “not try to lambast one side or the other to try and tarnish a brighter image.”
In an email sent to FOX 2, the chief specifically mentioned the alleged carjacking involving St. Louis police officers as a point of contention with the circuit attorney’s office.
“Politicians wanted cameras to capture bad police, now they realized it is catching criminals and they want to regulate how those cameras are used and disseminated,” Coles said.
A spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said her office had no comment on Chief Coles’ remarks. As of Thursday afternoon, the circuit attorney’s office did not respond to FOX 2’s request for comment.