St. Louis mayor questions control of police department

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 | 11:41 a.m. CST; updated 3:13 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said police officers' opposition to local control of the police department is driven by fear of accountability — not concern about retirement benefits.

Slay spoke Tuesday on the KWMU program, "St. Louis on the Air."

He said the current system means no one who is directly accountable to the voters has control of the police department.

Under a system that dates to the Civil War, a board composed of the mayor and four gubernatorial appointees oversees the department.

The St. Louis Police Officer's Association said legislation backed by the mayor would have the city's unelected director of public safety supervise the department.

Members of the department's pension board are concerned that Slay wants to gain control of retirement benefits to help balance the budget. Slay denies that.

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