St. Louis Public Radio News
11:14 am
Mon April 28, 2003

Residents Push Again for Oversight Board

St. Louis, MO – Dozens of St. Louis city residents at a public hearing in St. Louis Sunday reiterated their desire for a civilian oversight board to monitor the city police department.

Several people gave personal accounts of police brutality. They want an independent board to keep the police in check because they say the department's internal affairs division is ineffective.

Former city police officer Bill Monroe says too many people are dying in police pursuits. "There are people who roam our streets that need to be in jail," Monroe said.

"But we don't need police officers running through our streets as if it's a demolition derby, and it's become very obvious that it's the African-American male who's under assault."

St. Louis alderman Terry Kennedy is sponsoring a bill that would create a civilian police oversight board, but the bill has not received sufficient aldermanic support in the past.

First ward alderwoman Irene Smith says a board would protect both citizens and police officers. "We understand that they operate in a culture that's kind of secretive in terms of police officers doing wrong," Smith said. "But the truth of the matter is, that small minority of police officers make it difficult for the many good officers to do their jobs."

One organization says it will launch a boycott of incoming conventions on Thursday to raise awareness about the need for independent police oversight.