Morning headlines: Friday, March 25, 2011
St. Louis Police: No Local Control
The top officers of the St. Louis Police Officers' Association are challenging a potential 2012 ballot measure granting St. Louis and Kansas City local control of their police department. The lawsuit filed Thursday in Cole County contends the summary and financial estimate that would appear on the statewide ballot are unfair and misleading.
Unlike in most cities, St. Louis and Kansas City police currently are overseen by boards consisting largely of gubernatorial appointees. St. Louis officials have been pushing to gain control over their police, although Kansas City officials have not.
It's unclear whether the proposed initiative actually will make the 2012 ballot. The Missouri House has passed a separate measure that would give St. Louis control over its police without a statewide referendum. That effort is stalled in the Senate.
Fighting Copper Thieves
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that representatives from law enforcement, courts, scrap businesses and others met Thursday at St. Louis' South Patrol Division to discuss how to deter metal thefts and bring the thieves to justice. St. Louis police say metal thieves have stolen more than $4.6 million in copper and other metals in the city since January 2010. Downspouts and gutters are being stolen off of homes by thieves who then sell them to scrap dealers.
Tucson Suspect to Stay in Missouri for Evaluation
Jared Lee Loughner,22, is accused of killing 6 people and wounding 13 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Az. on Jan. 8. On Wednesday, he was taken too a specialized facility in Missouri to undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation. The evaluation will determine if he understands the nature and consequences of the charges he faces and can assist in his defense. Loughner's lawyers wanted an appeals court to order him returned. The Associated Press reports that appeal has been denied:
A federal appeals court rejected a request to halt the mental competency exam that's being conducted on the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday also denied the request by defense lawyers to return Jared Lee Loughner to Arizona from the federal medical facility in Springfield, Missouri where the exam is being conducted. But the appellate judges temporarily put on hold a lower court's order requiring that video recordings of Loughner's interviews be given to lawyers on both sides. The exam will still be video-recorded as lawyers litigate the issue in court. Loughner's attorneys had argued that a mental exam could do irreparable damage to their client's rights while the matter is reviewed by the courts.