Senate Bill 23 that would return control of their police department to the taxpaying citizens of St Louis City came up briefly on the Senate floor last week. It’s interesting to listen to the excuses – because there are really no reasons for not returning to the people what they should control – for not doing it.  Of course the old issue of corruption came up.  Why to hear the opponents to returning control of the police department talk, St Louis City is the only place in the whole state where corruption might occur.  They ignore the fact that mismanagement and corruption takes place in the current state controlled Police Board

Taxpayers of the City of St Louis Deserve Local Control of Their Police Department

The latest allegations of corruption have arisen on the Senate floor.  It was alleged that an officer asked for a street vendors license.  The officer was allegedly shown the business card of a St Louis City Alderman and was reported to have said something to the affect, “I gave my money to this guy”.   According to the statement on the Senate floor, the officer reportedly turned in the information of the alleged corruption to his superior and stated that nothing was done to follow-up.

This story has many angles.  The first angle is that the officer turned his allegation of corruption of an Alderman for further investigation which was the right thing to do.  Aside from the street vendors statement, there is no proof that he got special treatment but the officer was right in turning the information in to his superiors.  It’s just as likely that the street vendor was a campaign supporter of the Alderman and he thought that “bought” him privileges which it doesn’t.  But one would not know until an investigation was completed.

Here’s the problem – the officer turned the information into his STATE CONTROLLED police department superior – not the city.  It was and is not the City’s call to say whether the issue should be investigated – it’s a decision solely left to the STATE CONTROLLED police department system.

In the political arena, those losing the argument will often resort to throwing whatever they can up against the wall and hope that some of it sticks.  That is certainly occurring in the Local Control debate. Despite these attempts to obfuscate and prevent the citizens of St Louis City from getting local control of their police department back after 150 years, more than a super majority of people across the state get that what is happening with the state running the police department in St Louis is an abomination.

We’ve known early on in this debate from the response of our members that people outside the legislature get it and get it big  – local control of their police department should remain with them, not the state.  The folks at Missouri Club for Growth just released a statewide poll that further demonstrates overwhelming (>71%) support across the state for returning control of their police department to the citizens of St Louis. Can’t wait to see how this is dismissed by the opponents of local control.

People often complain about initiative petitions and the like.  The local control issue is one of the prime examples of why “We the People” reserved that avenue for our use.  The legislature has the opportunity to address the issue in a deliberative manner. Unfortunately, a few members of the Senate abandon their ability to be mediators and making sure that concerns are addressed in returning local control to the people.

Instead, these Senators are doing their best to make sure the people across the state get to let them know they are doing a poor job representing them on the issue.  The sad fact is – it’s relatively few legislators who are stopping this from happening. When you ask their constituents – they strongly agree that local control should be returned to the people of St Louis City.

Bottom line is there really is no reason not to return control of the St Louis Police Department to its rightful owners, the citizens of the city!

Missouri Club for Growth

Statewide Local Control Survey Conducted February 24-26, 2011
1000 registered voters in Missouri Margin of Error” +/- 3.1
Question 1: Were you aware that the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City are the only two cities in the country that do not have fiscal control of their own police departments and that currently the State of Missouri controls both departments?
Yes 41.5%
No 57.5%
Refused 1%
Question 2: Do you believe that local city operations budgets, such as the police department should be managed by locally elected officials, thereby holding their elected leaders accountable for their actions and spending?
Strongly agree: 71.1%
Somewhat agree: 15.9%   Total agree: 87%
Definitely disagree: 3.9%
Somewhat disagree: 2.6%  Total disagree: 6.5%
Undecided: 6%
Refused: .5%
Question 3: Currently legislation is being debated in the Statehouse that would return control of the police department to the City of St. Louis. Do you support or oppose this effort to give St. Louis control of their own police department, therefore being held accountable for its operations and spending?
Strongly agree: 54.2%
Somewhat agree: 17.5%  Total agree: 71.7%
Definitely disagree: 6.5%
Somewhat disagree: 2.5%  Total disagree: 9%
Undecided: 18.6%
Refused: 0.7%
Question 4: Those opposed to Local Control argue pension benefits may be jeopardized by returning control of the police department to the city of St. Louis. Legal analysis has proven the legislation would have no effect on police pensions or benefits for all current and retired officers and all current benefit levels will remain intact. Knowing this, are you more or less likely to support granting St. Louis local control of their police department?
Definitely more likely: 47.8%
Somewhat more likely: 19.7%  Total more likely: 67.5%
Definitely less likely: 5.4%
Somewhat less likely: 4.4% Total less likely: 9.8%
Undecided: 21%
Refused: 1.7%
Question 5: Each year taxpayers in the city of St. Louis contribute one hundred and sixty five million of their tax dollars to fund the police department. This represents 1/3 of the entire general revenue fund. Yet, city taxpayers have virtually no input into the governance of the department or how the funds are spent. In 2010, 69% of the city residents voted to support the return of local control to the city. Knowing this, are you more or less likely to support granting St. Louis local control of their police department?
Definitely more likely: 53.3%
Somewhat more likely: 20.1% Total more likely: 73.4%
Definitely less likely: 6.1%
Somewhat less likely: 2.9% Total less likely: 9%
Undecided: 16.5%
Refused: 1.1%
Question 6: Do you agree or disagree it is a fundamental right for citizens to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent in their local communities?
Strongly agree: 83.9%
Somewhat agree: 12.3% Total agree: 96.2%
Definitely disagree: 1.1%
Somewhat disagree: .8% Total disagree: 1.9%
Undecided: 1.7%
Refused: .2%
Age:
18-34 10%
35-49 26%
50-64 33%
65+ 31%
Gender:
Male: 48%
Female: 52%
Party identification:
Republican: 29%
Democrat: 24%
Independent: 29%
Other: 18%