Jefferson City, Mo. – A Missouri House committee Monday night voted to allow the city of St. Louis to regain control over its police department, which has been under state control since the Civil War.
Debate was contentious at times, especially as committee Chairman Theodore Hoskins (D, Berkeley), who supports the bill, refused to allow opponents to add on any amendments.
Joe Steiger of the St. Louis Police Officer's Association described himself as furious.
"This was clearly pushed through by the chairman...I don't think he allowed ample time for both sides...it's infuriating...there's no reassurance for the police officers right now, the way this bill is written," Steiger said.
Many police officers believe their pensions would be jeopardized by local control. But the bill's sponsor, State Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis), says they have nothing to fear.
"I will be in total opposition to anybody and any initiative that would tamper with their pension...I don't support changing the pension of the police association, and I will fight and I will go to bat for the St. Louis Police Association if anyone tries to tamper with their pension," Nasheed said.
Nasheed also defended Hoskins, saying that he ran his committee meeting the same way Republicans run their meetings.
The bill has one more committee stop before it can go to the Missouri House floor.
A similar local control bill in the Missouri Senate is scheduled for a committee hearing Tuesday.