Local Control / ACLU
5:16 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

ACLU challenges local police control initiative

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri is challenging language on a ballot initiative that would transfer control of the St. Louis Police Department from the state to the city.

ACLU Regional Program Director John Chasnoff says the initiative's summary, as it would appear on the ballot, fails to explain how the new law would restrict public oversight and access to records.

"We believe that there needs to be transparency of records especially in situations when officers are accused of a crime … when they're acting as public officials," Chasnoff said. "And, the ballot initiative would close those records which are currently open to Missourians."

The ballot initiative is the product of A Safer Missouri, a political operation funded by retired investor Rex Sinquefield.

A lawyer for the group says the ACLU's lawsuit has no merit and expects to see the initiative appear as is on state election ballots this November.

Since 1861, the State of Missouri has controlled the St. Louis Police Department through a police commissioners board. The board includes the city’s mayor and four citizens appointed by the Governor.