ST. LOUIS – As police reviews are happening across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, the Ethical Society of Police in St. Louis just wrapped up its own review.
The ESOP released a 60-page review with 25 recommendations. It broadly covers every spectrum of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, acknowledging where there are faults and strengths.
No matter where you look, there have been weeks of protests in every major city calling for police accountability. Some are demanding defunding the police, while others are advocating for reviews of police practices and procedures.
That’s exactly what Ethical Society of Police just completed on the SLMPD.
“We felt it was important for us to document that and to explain the problems that we have within our police department,” ESOP President Heather Taylor said.
The 60-page review covers a myriad of issues – anywhere from body cameras, community outreach, COVID-19 response, and one of the largest section’s biases within the department.
“There is bias among disciplinary lines and the thing is whether they’re our members, or POA members, or leadership, that they are disciplined fairly,” Taylor said. “If any officer is wrong, they have to be held accountable.”
In one section, labeled St. Louis Police Foundation, Politics and Interference, it questions the quote “fraught with tension” communications, or lack thereof, between St. Louis Director of Public Safety Judge Jimmy Edwards and the ESOP.
Still, Taylor said they give the director credit for help funding them in years past.
With the department short over 140 officers, the ESOP proclaims the issue isn’t applicants, but the systematic racism that hinders minority hopefuls from getting to the next phase of the interviewing process.
“The problem isn’t African-Americans or other minorities aren’t applying. They do,” Taylor said. “They apply, [but] we are not hiring them. We don’t have a surplus of officers or pool of officers that we can pick from because of the way we’re going about recruiting and retention is a problem.”
Not all is bad in the report.
The ESOP commended the department for assigning an officer to the LGBTQ liaison and encourages the same representation for other religious and racial communities.
Additionally, the organization thanked Chief John Hayden for his huge support for their recruiting program and for his accessibility.
“We feel like we’re making progress but our city really does have a long way to go,” Taylor said.
FOX 2 reached out to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office and the police department for a comment. A spokesperson in the mayor’s office said our inquiry made them aware of the review and that Mayor Krewson would look at it.
Meanwhile, the police department responded by only saying the chief would like to examine the review more closely before he discusses it.