St. Louis mayor supports legislation to localize police department control

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 | 11:28 p.m. CST; updated 11:33 p.m. CST, Tuesday, March 2, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — The mayor of St. Louis wants local control of the police department.

Legislation to localize control of the St. Louis Police Department received support from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay while facing opposition from police labor organizations in a Senate hearing Tuesday. A similar bill passed a House committee Monday.

The proposed legislation would allow the city of St. Louis to control its police force without state intervention. Now, the department is run by a mostly governor-appointed board.

St. Louis Alderwoman Jennifer Florida said the current state-run arrangement was implemented during the Civil War era.

Slay testified in favor of the bill and said localizing the police force would benefit civilians and give them "someone to turn to for results."

"I believe that government is best when it's closest to the people," Slay said.

Joe Steiger, vice president of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, spoke out against the legislation.

Steiger countered Slay's statement on the current department setup's lack of accountability, pointing out that Mayor Slay was an ex-officio member of the board of police commissioners and had input into every decision made.

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