Legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the city has easily passed a Missouri House committee. Also, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, a long-time foe, is now supporting the bill.
Joe Steiger, Vice President of the Police Officers' Association, told the committee that the average beat cop would prefer the status quo, state control over the department. But he says they can live with the details of the compromise laid out in the bill.
“We’ve had a number of concerns, namely our pensions, our benefits, the residency requirement," Steiger said. "The fact that they’re going to stay in state statute will provide that protection that the men and women of the St. Louis Police Department need.”
However, one Urban Issues committee member, State Representative Gary Fuhr (R, South St. Louis County), voted “no.”
“I’m the only individual on the committee that’s had the opportunity to serve as a St. Louis city police officer," Fuhr said. "I’m just a little concerned about this transition at this time, actually being able to give better, more effective, more efficient law enforcement services to the citizens of the city of St. Louis.”
The bill also easily passed the House Rules Committee today, and could be debated on the House floor as early as tomorrow.
However, the local control measure could again have a hard time getting out of the State Senate, where Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City) has expressed skepticism over the compromise agreement between the city and the Police Officers Association.