ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Mayor Tishaura Jones is answering Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s proposal to forgive a multimillion-dollar debt as long as the money is spent on police. She says that the money should go to hiring more 911 dispatchers and improving the mental and physical health of the city’s first responders.
The Attorney General’s office has released a statement saying they want the money to go to hiring more officers to patrol the streets of St. Louis. They say the city still owes the state the money and the terms are not negotiable.
A judge overturned the capital murder, rape, other charges against George Allen Jr. on November 2, 2012. He was convicted of the 1982 rape and murder of Mary Bell, whose body was found inside her LaSalle Park home.
The lawsuit over the wrongful conviction of George Allen Jr. Was settled in 2018. St. Louis would reimburse the state of Missouri for $5.5 million paid in the case. The final payment was due on September 1, 2021.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office recently offered a deal. The mayor said that St. Louis could keep the $5.5 million as long as they spent it on police personnel.
“Of course, I assumed it was a political stunt like most things coming out of the Attorney General’s Office these days. While we have been working on improving public safety, bringing down our homicide rate by more than 25% this year, and trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Attorney General has spent his time chasing clout and a Senate seat. My administration is always willing to work with anyone to help improve the lives of residents in our city. We are always looking for more resources to help our first responders. But, if we truly want to make St. Louis a safer place, we need to take a broader, more holistic view of public safety,” said Mayor Jones.
Mayor Jones has proposed shaking up the way that St. Louis practices public safety enforcement. Her 2021 budget includes funding for more than 25 new social workers.
The city responded to the Attorney General’s office last week with a proposal that the mayor says meets St. Louis’ public safety objectives. The mayor said that the money would not be used to recruit more police officers.
“Based on a Supreme Court ruling this summer, the City of St. Louis owes us millions of dollars for past legal work. Out of respect for the men and women of law enforcement and our deep commitment to the City of St. Louis, we graciously offered to put this money towards hiring more officers on the ground to patrol the city and fight violent crime. It’s sad that the mayor has made this a political issue and that hiring more police officers doesn’t fit the agenda of the mayor of the murder capital of the United States. We’re going to keep fighting for the safety of all 6 million Missourians,” the Attorney General’s office says in a statement.
There are three goals to the city’s plan. They want to create a hiring incentive for 911 dispatchers. The mayor’s office says that St. Louis still needs around 30 more workers. Increase COVID vaccination and booster rates among first responders. Plus, offer mental healthcare for police officers and others.
“Anyone who reads my Twitter feed knows how I feel about the Attorney General using the powers of his office to serve his own political ambitions while wasting our tax dollars. I like to call him the ‘Sue Bully,'” said Mayor Jones.
The Mayor is likely referring to Schmitt’s many lawsuits to block mask mandates, build a wall at the southern border of the United States, and remove ticket quotas.
Jones says that she is willing to put aside their differences to get the resources that the city needs. The city is still waiting for the Attorney General’s response to the proposal. The mayor said that they are not aware of any suggestions from the office on how to use the money.