The department has been under state control since the Civil War.
Among those testifying in favor of the bill was St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. He told the Senate Committee on Progress and Development that local control would make the city's police department more accountable.
"When something goes wrong, when we are tagged with crime labels, or if money is stolen, there is no one to take your call in Jefferson City," Slay said.
Supporters also promise that police pensions would not be raided to prop up the city's budget. But St. Louis Police Sergeant Heather Taylor says she doubts the city's ability to protect pensions.
"We have no guarantee of that," Taylor said. "As the state statute is now, we do have a guarantee - it's just that simple for us."
The committee took no action today on the local control bill. It's sponsored in the Senate by Joseph Keaveny (D, St. Louis). A House committee passed a similar bill last week. The House version is sponsored by State Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis).