JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Several bills making the rounds among Missouri lawmakers call for changes in policing within St. Louis City.
At least four bills have proposed a scenario through which a board of police commissioners would oversee the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
STLMPD has operated under the control of the mayor’s office for nearly a decade after approval from voters in 2012. For more than 150 years before that, the agency operated under a police board rather than local control.
Mayor Tishaura Jones, while visiting the Missouri Capitol on Wednesday to discuss budgets, told FOX 2’s Emily Manley she is strongly opposed to the former setup, particularly the way lawmakers are trying to reverse a system that voters approved.
“This is a slap in the face to the voters, as well as a clap in the face to the city of St. Louis,” Jones said on multiple bills seeking a change to board control.
Another proposal Jones is closely monitoring is HB 301, which would give the governor the ability to strip the authority of any elected prosecutor to handle violent crime cases. The proposal would allow the governor to appoint a special prosecutor for five years in any jurisdiction where the homicide rate exceeds 35 cases per every 100,000 people.
“These bills about crime are a little heavy-handed,” said Jones. “Some of these legislators haven’t spent any time in the city or any time speaking to us about what the real challenges are. The people closest to the problem are closest to the solutions, and we’d appreciate being part of the conversation.”
Jones also ran some budget requests by Gov. Mike Parson’s office. She says the governor supports requests to protect the city’s residents and children, particularly as the state invests $50 million for school safety grants.
Mayor Jones says money may not be the only answer for the issues facing St. Louis Public Schools, but when used correctly, it can be a help.
“We don’t want our children to go to schools in places that look like prisons,” said Jones. “We want them to be learning environments where they can learn and grow. Our children carry a lot of trauma, and we want to make sure some of this money can be used for trauma learning and tramua-informed care.”
Mayor Jones said she also requested funding for workforce development and infrastructure projects.