Illinois governor Pat Quinn has signed a measure that provides an extra layer of oversight for four troubled police departments in the Metro East.
East St. Louis, Alorton, Washington Park and Brooklyn will still operate as stand-alone departments. But the new Metro East Police District will oversee their funding and set new ethical standards - things Governor Quinn called essential.
"Money from the state or the federal government is not going to come to local law enforcement unless things are done right all the time, unless there is integrity, accountability and the money is used in a way that protects the people," Quinn said.
St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly has filed charges against 14 members of the departments in the last 18 months, but he had high praise for those officers still on the job.
"On any given day or night they face tremendous danger trying to protect their cities and their citizens," Kelly said. "They are some of the bravest people you will ever meet. This law is a first step in setting the standards and the professionalism and ethics that are equal to their courage."
Seven members of the 14-member commission are appointed by the governor. Four are appointed by the mayor of East St. Louis, and the other three by the village presidents.
The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police opposed an earlier version of the measure, but supports the new law.
The oversight panel takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann