The Debate over Local Control

At a recent public hearing on the ballot initiative to return control of the St. Louis Police Department to City of St. Louis, the chief of police, Dan Isom, voiced some of his concerns about the specific ballot initiative, though he is a supporter of the idea of local control.

Only three parties were involved in deciding how to write up the ballot initiative for local control, Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association said at the Feb. 14 Board of Alderman public safety committee meeting.

Sitting at that cloistered table were Mayor Francis G. Slay’s office, the POA and A Safer Missouri, a group funded by Rex Sinquefield, the billionaire and conservative policy activist. The language they created will appear on the November 2012 ballot if the signature-gathering effort funded by Sinquefield succeeds.

Community organizations and the Board of Aldermen — who have been fighting for local control for years — were not at the deal table for the ballot language. And the initiative contains language that takes away power from the board and community, testifiers told the public safety committee, which is chaired by Alderman Greg Carter.

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About Antonio D. French

Antonio French is a St. Louis City alderman representing the 21st Ward. He is also a writer and political consultant. He lives in the O'Fallon neighborhood with his wife, baby and two dogs. You can follow Antonio on Twitter: @AntonioFrench

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