It’s been a bloody year for cops around the country. Already, dozens have been killed in the line of duty. In St. Louis, two law enforcement officers have been killed. Some in the criminal justice field say assaults against police officers are high in St. Louis and they worry that attitudes against police here are getting worse.
In the first of a two-part series, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie Bierach explores the dangers police officers face today and spoke with some people living in higher crime neighborhoods about how they feel about their police.
A former police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton faces sentencing in July after pleading guilty to taking a $5,000 bribe.
The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis says 38-year-old Scott William Haenel of O'Fallon also admitted obstructing a federal investigation in his guilty plea on Wednesday.
Federal authorities say a person cooperating with the FBI met several times with Haenel between November and January and paid him $5,000. In exchange, Haenel agreed to help conceal a money laundering scheme involving drug trafficking money.
The use of heroin in the St. Louis area is at epidemic levels, according to law enforcement officials.
The number of heroin overdoses and deaths has doubled in the St. Louis County and city over the past four years. St. Louis County Chief of Police Tim Fitch said the drug is cheaper now and it can be snorted or smoked, instead of injected. He said it's no longer just an urban issue.
The battle over who will control the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has entered the theater of the courtroom.
Legislative efforts to give the city's Board of Aldermen direct oversight of the department have stalled. (It's currently governed by a five-member board, four of whom are gubernatorial appointees. The mayor is always the fifth).
A jury has found Todd Shepard guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The process now goes to the punishment phase, in which prosecuting attorney Robert P. McCulloch is expected to call for the death sentence.
While on the stand today defendant Todd Shepard did something few in his place do - he admitted to his crime.
Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:
The Jennings City Council voted 6-to-1 last night to enter a contract with the St. Louis County police department to handle the municipality's police services. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the lone no vote came form Councilwoman Yolanda Austin , who is claiming she has flied a lawsuit to block the contract. St. Louis County has been overseeing the Jennings police Department since November 1. The one-year contract would cost $2.8 million. The Post-Dispatch reports the current budgeted cost for Jennings to run its own department is about $3.1 million.
A Missouri House Republican wants to require labor unions to get written permission from their members before deducting dues form their paychecks. The legislation by House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller would require workers to sign a forma every year authorizing the deductions. They would also have to give written consent for their dues to be used for political activities. Schoeller, from Willard, says workers should be able to decide how to spend their own money. Labor groups say the bill would require too much paperwork. They also say dues are not used for political activities. They say those activities are financed from a separate fund to which members make voluntary contributions.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Police Retirement System endorsed changes Monday to pension benefits for newly hired St. Louis police officers. The changes call for all participants, including those currently enrolled, to contribute 9 percent of their salary, up from 7 percent. According to the system's executive director, the changes would saved the city about $600,000 a year to start, and about $10 million annually after about 20 years. The Post-Dispatch reports that new officers would have to wait longer to be eligible for benefits and would not be able to receive a lump sum refund on their contributions upon retirement. Exacerbated by the bad economy, cost for city contributions to police, firefighter and other employee pension systems have ballooned by millions in recent years. City leaders have said employees face almost certain layoffs if cost cannot be trimmed.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a judge has postponed the trial of Christopher Coleman, who's accused of killing his wife and sons. His defense lawyers asserted they needed more time to examine DNA evidence. Jury selection in the trial was to begin Tuesday. On Thursday, the judge also denied a defense effort to exclude Coleman's taped six-hour interview with Columbia police on May 5, 2009, the day the bodies were found in the family's home.