Local Control of the St. Louis Police Department Moves to the House.
JEFFERSON CITY - The House Urban Issues Committee passed, with a 6-1 vote, the bill returning control of the St. Louis Police Department back to the people. Sponsor Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis County, said she thinks the bill will pass through the House and the Senate.
"I don't think that Maria Chappelle Nadal will vote against will try to kill it. I don't think that (Jason) Crowell will try to kill. I think both of them truly understand that this is what the city wants," said Nasheed.
If the bill passes in the Senate it will be the first time St. Louis will have control of its police department after 150 years.
Former St. Louis police officer, Rep. Gary Fuhr, D-St. Louis, said there are number of concerns he and other police officers have about the bill. Fuhr voted in opposition of the bill during the committee hearing Thursday and was the only one.
"If you talked to the local officers now they are still concerned about what this transition will do to their effectiveness. They would like to keep things the way that they are," said Fuhr.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay testified in favor first, and he said effectiveness is the what this bill is trying to improve. Slay said he cannot predict the outcome for the bill but if it is presented on its own merits, as opposed to being lumped together with another bill he has high expectations. Slay and also the St. Louis Police Association are both on board for the bill to pass. However, the St. Louis Police Association has voiced numerous times in the past it is not in support of the bill.
Vice President of the Police Association, Joe Steiger said collective bargaining and benefits have played a role with the Association changing its mind.
Another factor contributing to the Police Association's support is Rex Sinquefield. Steiger said the state wide referendum that would be put on the ballot paid for by Sinquefield made them come to a compromise with legislators and city officials.
"If this ballot initiative wasn't out there and it was financed by a billionaire we probably easily could continue to fight local control in Jefferson City," said Steiger.
Steiger said the main motive for the support comes from the fear of losing Chapter 84. The ballot initiatives came to the Police Association's attention towards the end of the legislative session the previous year, and with the chance of this fear becoming reality Steiger said the compromise had to happen to keep police officers benefits.