Both sides of the debate on how St. Louis would handle local control of its police department are digging in their heels over issues of public oversight and transparency.
At a Board of Alderman community forum last night, critics argued that language on a proposed ballot initiative would preclude the department from a civilian review board and restrict public access to disciplinary records.
John Chasnoff is a program director for the ACLU, which supports local control but is suing to block the initiative.
“Citizens of this city should have the same right as everybody else in Missouri to their Sunshine Law," he said. "Everybody else in Missouri would operate under a different Sunshine Law – the complete Sunshine Law. We’d have this exemption carved out where we don’t get to see those kinds of records,” Chasnoff said.
But Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, says the initiative's opponents are misleading the public.
“We’ve been rewarded with a slap in the face," Roorda said, "by people that want to vilify the men and women that are out there working to protect this city every single, solitary day as hails of bullets fly by their ears in this very, very, dangerous city.”
A signature gathering campaign, funded by millionaire Rex Sinquefield, is seeking 100,000 signatures by May 6 to put the proposal on November’s ballot.