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ST. LOUIS – Mayor Tushuara Jones signed legislation Wednesday to create the Division of Civilian Oversight in St. Louis.

Jones says the independent agency will strengthen police accountability and improve trust between officers and the St. Louis community. The division will review complaints of police misconduct and force incidents.

“Improving trust between community and police is essential to make our neighborhoods safer,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “Through the hard work of the Board of Aldermen and community leaders, we are taking a critical step forward in fostering that trust. The bill I’m signing today creates the Division of Civilian Oversight, which strengthens our existing oversight provisions for our public safety departments.”

Anyone looking to serve with the agency must apply and receive approval from the public safety committee, the Board of Alderman and Mayor Jones. Those approved will have subpoena power to all legally permissible information and access to city jails to investigate complaints.

The Civilian Oversight Board and the Detention Facilities Board will set the goals for the division and measure their progress through an annual report.

“There is no real public safety without public involvement in the incidents that directly impact them, as cooperation between community and law enforcement is essential,” said Public Safety Director Dr. Dan Isom. “This independent oversight division will bring help our public safety divisions win and retain trust.”

The Ethical Society of Police, a St. Louis association, releases the following statement after the passage of the civilian oversight division:

Today, the City of St. Louis Board Bill 47 was signed. Though ESOP along with the other two labor unions opposed the bill, we understand the need for a civilian oversight board. 

We were never brought to the table to provide insight for the bill, which was written too broadly. We’ve had discussions with the other two labor unions and are in agreement that there needs to be fair representation in implementing the bill. ESOP is concerned that, if it is not implemented carefully, good officers could be targeted by persons with a hidden agenda against law enforcement.

For more information on the Division of Civilian Oversight, click here.