The St. Louis Police Officers Association has endorsed Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, for mayor.
"This particular election is probably one of the most important that we're going to see here in the last decade," union president Joe Steiger said at the Wednesday afternoon announcement. "As police officers, it's extremely important to us, with the rising violent crime here in St. Louis. Lyda was, by far, the candidate that was most friendly with law enforcement."
Steiger applauded Krewson's "common-sense approach" to lawmaking, and the way she considered both sides of an issue before taking action. He said she also had the most well-thought-out plan to hire more officers, and boost the salaries of the men and women working for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Bringing pay for SLMPD officers in line with that of officers in the county would cost about $12 million per year.
"I don't think any campaign has settled on an approach to where the money comes from," said Jeff Roorda, the union's business manager. "But I can tell you that the conversations have been ongoing and frequent with Lyda's campaign about the different possibilities, whether it's a sales tax, personal property tax, a fee increase, or some combination of those things. And some of this is just about setting your priorities."
Krewson said she was honored to pick up the union's endorsement, and wasn't worried that it might drive some potential voters away.
"We’re not going to improve neighborhood safety in this city unless we work hand-in-hand with the police department," she said. "That’s not the only element of a neighborhood safety plan, but it’s certainly one of the major elements."
Steiger said members of the union's legislative committee talked to most, but not all, of the seven current candidates for mayor before recommending an endorsement of Krewson to the executive board. He said he was confident the vote of 17-member executive board adequately represented the voice of the 1,100 patrol officers and sergeants in the union.
But another candidate for mayor, Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward, expressed skepticism with that on Twitter.
There's a division between the police union and the cops on the street. I talk to cops all the time. They don't approve of stuff like this. pic.twitter.com/cFFyN8b94l
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) December 21, 2016
He added in another tweet, "My crime plan calls for full staffing and better pay for officers -- but also more accountability and new leadership in the department."
French met with the police union on Dec. 8.
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