Local control coalition
4:11 pm
Fri February 18, 2011

Coalition pledges to keep pushing on local control

A day after a measure granting St. Louis control of its police department cleared the latest of several legislative hurdles, a broad coalition of politicians, business and community leaders and civil rights activists pledged to help it get through the Missouri Senate.

The message they'll bring? You have to listen to the people.

"Prop L passed by 70 percent," says state Senator Joe Keaveny, who's leading the charge in that chamber.  And he says the coalition's membership should make it ever clearer about the passion residents have for local control.

Another target of Keaveny's message? Fellow Democrat Jay Nixon, the Missouri governor. Last week, Nixon told reporters he was afraid that returning police oversight to St. Louis residents would result in "political meddling."

"He's elected to represent the people," Keaveny said, though  he conceded that Nixon's hesitancy is a huge stumbling block.

The real work, say civil rights activists, will begin if the bill becomes law. Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression co-chair Jamala Rogers says the same politicians pushing the bill in Jefferson City will have to return to St. Louis to secure transparency and accountability at the city level.

"The mistrust of city government, we have to affirm that," she said. "People feel that. So we need to build in some guarantees that this thing is not going to just blow up in our faces when we bring it back home."

The Coalition led a 2006 effort to create a civilian review panel for the police - an effort vetoed by Mayor Francis Slay.