MO House passes bill that would give control of St. Louis City police to state-appointed Board of Police Commissioners
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - On Monday, the Missouri House passed HB702, which would give control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) to a state-appointed Board of Police Commissioners.
If this version of the bill is passed by the Missouri Senate, the Board of Police Commissioners will assume control of SLMPD on Aug. 28, 2023. It would require the Missouri Governor to appoint four commissioners who would serve together with the mayor of St. Louis. The Kansas City Police Department currently operates under state control with a Board of Police Commissioners, four Missouri Governor appointees and the mayor of Kansas City.
In 2012 Missouri approved a ballot measure that gave St. Louis control over SLMPD, which had previously been state-controlled since the Civil War.
In a statement, Nick Desideri, the Communications Director for the St. Louis City Mayor’s Office, said:
“Voters across Missouri overwhelmingly approved a 2012 ballot measure granting St. Louisans control over our own police department for the first time since the Civil War. This bill reverses the will of the voters. Instead of focusing on measures that would actually make our communities safer - investments in left-behind communities, commonsense gun safety laws - certain Jefferson City Republicans are working overtime to turn back the clock to the 1800′s. This isn’t about improving public safety; it’s about power and politics.
”Mayor Jones will continue working to address root causes of crime in our communities while holding those who do commit crime accountable for their actions.”
Republican lawmakers have said St. Louis City isn’t doing enough to fight crime.
Along with moving the control over SLMPD to a board, HB702 would also require that all city officers get a $7,000 raise by 2024. Democrats in the Missouri Legislature tried to get the state to chip in for the raise, but their efforts failed.
The passing of HB702 comes after SLMPD hired its first chief in history from outside the department. If the bill becomes law, it is unclear what it would mean for the chief.
A spokesperson for the City of St. Louis Mayor’s Office said, as their office understands it at this time, Chief Robert Tracy would have to get a majority of votes on the board to make changes and decisions on department policy.
If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Mike Parson, it would make St. Louis and Kansas City the only major cities in the country with state-appointed boards that oversee their police departments.
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