House Bill 71 and Senate Bill 23 have been offered to correct the Civil War era takeover of the St. Louis Police Department. This should be a no-brainer. Most of us, through our county or municipal elected officials, control our police department. If we are having problems in our communities, we can go to our local elected officials and seek actions to address those problems. St Louis residents can go to their city officials to seek action and often do. The difference is their local elected officials can do nothing to help them!
The St. Louis and Kansas City Police Departments are the only two in the country not controlled by city government. As we reported in our blog posting State Continues to Rob St. Louis of Local Control 150 Years and Billions of Dollars Later, the St. Louis Police Department was taken away 150 years ago. The Kansas City Police Department was taken away, then given back and then taken away again during the infamous Pendergast years.
A few years ago there was a great show on TV called “Jericho.” At least I thought it was great, but it only lasted two seasons. It took place somewhere in Kansas and showed the aftermath of a nuclear attack on key targets in the United States. One of the elements of the show was the government security forces who were hired to bring “law and order” back to the affected areas. The name of the private security force they hired was “Ravenwood.” They weren’t exactly Wyatt Earp or Matt Dillion in their actions.
Come to find out, there is an actual private security organization similar to the fictional “Ravenwood” called Blackwater Worldwide (now Xe Services, LLC). According to Wikipedia, Blackwater was hired by the U.S. government to help out in Afghanistan and Iraq to train police and provide some services in support of our troops. The Afghanis and the Iraqis had no say over the way Blackwater operated. The only thing Iraq could do was to refuse to renew Blackwater’s business license in the country after some problems they experienced as part of their police duties.
Missouri has its own version of a Blackwater Unit. The St. Louis Police Department is controlled by the Governor of Missouri. He appoints members of the Board of Police Commissioners, which in turn oversees the St. Louis Police Department, and the city gets to pay for its decisions. Although the mayor and city aldermen get the calls from the citizens, it really should be the governor and commissioners getting the calls since they control the police department, not the city. Which makes you wonder why the St. Louis press doesn’t ask the governor the questions they ask the mayor about crime in the city!
The governor and commissioners spend the money that the city provides by setting policies and deciding how that money is spent. However, the governor and the commissioners are not held accountable for their decisions. They operate their Blackwater unit with impunity, knowing it is the mayor and city who take the heat for high crime stats such as these.
The Mayor makes some very good points in his op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Getting back what should be ours.
Ask yourself this question, would my local police force operate better under state control or under the control of my mayor and aldermen? The majority of you will answer “My mayor and aldermen”. The citizens of St. Louis deserve the same access to local control of an area that impacts their lives and property!