Local Control: What It Is and What It Isn’t

I have written several blogs regarding state control of the City of St. Louis Police Department (The Art of Deflection and Distraction, Governor Nixon’s Version of Blackwater Unit – St Louis Police Department and State Continues to Rob St. Louis of Local Control 150 Years and Billions of Dollars Later).  They all point to how the state “owns” the city’s police department and to the fact that the citizens of St. Louis have no control through their local elected officials to address crime or other issues.  They have to appeal to the unelected, appointed-by-the-governor in Jefferson City, Board of Police Commissioners.  You and I would not tolerate that arrangement in our communities!

Those who know me know that I am not one who believes disagreeing on an issue is bad. I do believe in being able to disagree with gusto, but not being disagreeable while doing so.

It’s also been my observation that the ability to do so comes easier to some than others as demonstrated by the former St. Louis policeman and current ‘security consultant’ who said “…I will hunt you down and ruin your ******* day!”. Fortunately, this has not been the typical disagreement path even from current or other former members of the force!

In the blog posting, Governor Nixon’s Version of Blackwater Unit – St Louis Police Department, I compared Governor Nixon’s control of the City of St. Louis Police Department to that of a private security contractor.  The governor appoints the members of the City of St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners and they, in turn, determine how the police department will operate, and the city gets to pay for it!  The actions of the governor and Board of Police Commissioners are taken with impunity as there is no direct accountability to the citizens of St. Louis for their decisions.

The use of the “Blackwater Unit” is intended to demonstrate the unaccountable governing structure of the City Police Department. It has been suggested to me that I may have missed my target in the forgoing attempt at drawing correlations. I understand that when issues are discussed sometimes words can be colored to take on a different meaning than intended.

Some of those who disagree with me on local control believe that my comparison of the governor’s control to a private operation is demeaning and offensive to the men and women of the City of St. Louis Police Department.  I disagreed as none of the blogs say anything disparaging about the men and women who serve and protect citizens and visitors alike.  I have a record of strong support of law enforrement.  Ask the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

I want to make it clear that the “Blackwater Unit” reference was NOT aimed at the members of the police department.

For the record – I have written nothing, have not intended to write anything and do not intend to write anything that besmirches the men and women of the City of St. Louis Police Department. I respect and appreciate what they do and that they do so at some sacrifice.

I wholeheartedly disagree with the existing governing structure and will continue to do so. But under no circumstance should that disagreement be interpreted as an indictment of the men and women in blue.

Carl Bearden
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One Response to “Local Control: What It Is and What It Isn’t”

  1. jerry says:

    Sorry to disagree but, I was a cop in Kansas City Mo for 25 years. Not once did any politics enter into who I arrested or what I did. We enforced the law equally. I arrested both city and state officials for minor offenses and not once was anything said to me about making the charges go away. At the same time I know of departments that are controlled by corrupt mayors and city council people and the police are afraid to do their jobs, in fear of being fired, or get your buddies and go paint the mayors house over the weekend and get promoted in the near future. This is the kind of stuff that we don’t need in law enforcement! Leave these departments under state control, and keep the politicians out of law encorcement as much as you can!