CLAYTON, Mo. – The St. Louis County Council adopted a no-confidence resolution against Police Chief Mary Barton during its meeting Tuesday night.
The resolution was approved in a 4 to 3 vote. Rita Heard Days, Kelli Dunaway, Lisa Clancy, and Shalonda Webb voted for the resolution. Councilmembers who voted against the resolution are Tim Fitch, Ernie Trakas, and Mark Harder.
After Tuesday night’s vote, Sgt. Ben Granda, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, sent FOX 2 a statement from Chief Barton.
“I understand the resolution put forward but it amounts to your opinion. And that has no legal standing,” Barton said.
Former St. Louis County Police Chief and current County Council member Tim Fitch said the resolution is non-binding and would be largely symbolic because decisions to hire, fire, and discipline police chiefs fall under the Board of Police Commissioners and not the council.
County Executive Sam Page was present at the virtual meeting and was asked if he would like to make a comment on the resolution’s approval, but Page declined.
Barton was appointed County Police Chief on May 1, 2020. She is the first female chief in the department’s history. Her short tenure has included controversy but she is defending herself against this move.
The Board of Police Commissioners has a regularly scheduled virtual meeting Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.
The resolution was sponsored by County Council Chairperson Rita Heard Days.
FOX 2 obtained a copy of the resolution from Days’ assistant. It levels harsh criticism against Barton in multiple areas. It says she has “fumbled her way through the position of chief.” The resolution claims that the County Council has “serious concerns of mismanagement within the St. Louis County Police Department under the leadership of Chief Mary Barton.”
The resolution criticizes Barton’s handling of several issues related to race and it questions Barton’s “practice of transferring St. Louis County officers to different departments.” The resolution also says Barton is “incapable of guiding the St. Louis County Police Department in the right direction.”
In a statement, Chief Barton said, “Personnel changes are not made in retaliation. Placing our staff in roles where they utilize their skills and contribute to the success of our community and department is a strategic plan and does not always result in making everyone happy. Most chiefs of police do not win popularity contests. For almost a year, some people have refused to accept the fact that I was appointed as the chief of police. Despite that, I will continue to serve in the best interest of the St. Louis County Police Department, all its employees and the citizens of St. Louis County.”
The council does have oversight of the county police budget.