ST. LOUIS – Legislation that would give the state of Missouri control of the St. Louis City Police Department has crossed its first hurdle with ease.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has been under local control since 2012. If this becomes law, it would return control to a five-member board. They’d be appointed by both the governor and mayor.
On Monday, a state takeover of the city police department moved one step closer to the governor’s desk. Lawmakers in the Missouri House voting overwhelmingly to advance the measure to the senate for consideration. The legislation moves to the senate in a 113 to 40 vote. Three lawmakers voted present.
The city gained control of the police department a decade ago through a statewide vote after years of lobbying. Tuesday morning, FOX 2’s partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported republicans have characterized local control of St. Louis’ police department as a failed experiment.
The city’s police union said during the time under local control, police morale has tanked, and crime has gotten worse.
If approved by the senate and signed by Governor Mike Parson, this would represent a rebuke of Mayor Tishaura Jones’ leadership of the department. The mayor disapproves of the move.
She tweeted saying, in part – “State control of police does not make cities safer,” Jones expressed. “Democrats from the St. Louis area are split on the idea of the state taking over.”
“If you were unpaid, overworked, understaffed, ill-equipped for your job, which is the current situation and has been for the St. Louis City Metropolitan Police Department, I just think that’s outrageous, and I have to at least address it as best I can to provide that,” St. Louis City Representative Steve Butz explained.
St. Louis County Representative Barbara Phifer added, “There is absolutely no evidence that passing this bill and creating a state board will correct the problem that is presenting, which is violence in the city of St. Louis.”
The bill would also increase the starting pay for police officers by $7,000. This is $3,000 more than the raise St. Louis officials agreed to last week.