St. Louis County Police

St. Louis County Crisis Intervention Team officers respond to as many as 60 calls per week involving a person with a mental health issue, according to Sgt. Jeremy Romo.
Jason Rojas | Flickr

Do police do enough to de-escalate encounters with people who may be mentally ill? Why do police use guns against a person with possible mental health issues who is armed with only a knife?

These are questions that seem to crop up after any incident in which police use deadly force against someone who seems to suffer from mental health issues. They arose last week after the fatal police shooting of a man with a history of mental illness in Jennings, and after the death of Kajieme Powell last year in St. Louis.

Clouds of tear gas on West Florissant Ave. August 2014
Durrie Bouscaren

(Updated 4:12 p.m. with comments from attorneys.)

The three agencies that made up the "unified command" during protests in Ferguson over the summer will have to provide warning before using tear gas or other chemical agents to disperse peaceful crowds.

St. Louis County Police officers unload a truck of food donations at the St. Louis Area Foodbank on Monday.
Courtesy St. Louis County Police

The St. Louis County Police Department donated its remaining cache of more than a ton of nonperishable food items it received from supporters during the unrest in Ferguson to the St. Louis Area Foodbank on Monday.

Back in November, county police put out a call for donations of grab-and-go, hand-held snacks that officers could easily take with them to eat during long shifts. The department said people from across the St. Louis area and the country sent in hundreds of pounds of food.

Logos of the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan Police.
St. Louis County website / file photo

Thousands of people in St. Louis and St. Louis County are a hundred dollars richer after police in both jurisdictions handed out $100 bills Tuesday as part of a one-day Secret Santa blitz.

Joseph Higgs from south St. Louis was one of the people who received the cash.

Higgs said that he has had more negative than positive experiences with police in the past so this experience has helped improve his opinion of law enforcement.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley talks to reporters after Tuesday's St. Louis County Council meeting.
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 5:39 p.m., Dec. 16 with interview with U.S. Attorney Robert Callahan.)

The U.S. attorney’s office reports that it has found no wrongdoing -- by anyone -- in the awarding of a subcontract for the St. Louis County police department’s new crime lab. 

    

Police are facing increasingly hostile, anti-law enforcement crowds as protests continue in the St. Louis area.
Stephanie Lecci

Since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown in August, police have been facing hostile protests with often a strong anti-law enforcement bent.

Chants of "No justice, no peace" have been mixed with much more violent anti-police messages, including threats of shooting down police helicopters and other vulgar terms.

But it's not just shouts being hurled at police; they've also had Molotov cocktails, rocks, and bottles of urine thrown their way, even been spit at and fired upon.

Police response to violence

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Police Department has taken over command of security of protest demonstrations in Ferguson. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson asked St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar to take over Friday after consulting with Ferguson’s mayor and city manager.

Belmar said that the Ferguson police department lacked the manpower to handle the level of activity in Ferguson.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

After protests in Ferguson flared up overnight, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson says he’s ready to use the riot gear that became a staple of the August demonstrations over Michael Brown’s death.

But Johnson said he’s not willing to place automatically a larger police presence on West Florissant Avenue, adding that he’s monitoring the situation on a “day-by-day” basis.

Along with mental health advocates and law enforcement officials, St. Louis County Police Sergeant Jeremy Romo coordinates the St. Louis-Area Crisis Intervention Team program.

The program trains officers to respond to people in a mental health crisis. As St. Louis Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reported for NPR Tuesday morning, the need for this service becomes more pronounced as funding for mental health services declines in many communities.  

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer brought about an intense examination of the conduct, racial composition and “militarization” of local police departments.

But one topic that hasn’t been talked about that much is how elected representatives exert fairly little direct control over the region’s law enforcement agencies.

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