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Local control supporters get go-ahead to gather signatures

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Supporters of a ballot measure that would turn control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to City Hall have gotten the go-ahead to start work on getting the proposal in front of the voters.

The decision by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan to approve the measure for circulation means local control advocates can start gathering more than 143,000 signatures, which must be collected from multiple districts in the state. They're due on May 6, 2012.

Legislative pushes for local control have faltered the past several years, prompting the ballot initiative. The police officer's union was opposed to an initial ballot measure, saying it lacked protections for pensions and other benefits, and provided no transition period. But the union dropped its objections after local control supporters - who receive heavy financial support from billionaire Rex Sinquefield - included that language in the ballot proposal.

Lawmakers have pre-filed several local control bills for consideration when the General Assembly returns in January, but Mayor Francis Slay says he's given up on getting results from Jefferson City, and plans to focus his attention on the ballot.

Here's the local control language voters will see on the petitions: (from the Secretary of State)

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

·       allow any city not within a county (the City of St. Louis) the option of transferring certain obligations and control of the city’s police force from the board of police commissioners currently appointed by the governor to the city and establishing a municipal police force;

·       establish certain procedures and requirements for governing such a municipal police force including residency, rank, salary, benefits, insurance, and pension; and

·       prohibit retaliation against any employee of such municipal police force who reports conduct believed to be illegal to a superior, government agency, or the press?

State governmental entities estimated savings will eventually be up to $500,000 annually. Local governmental entities estimated annual potential savings of $3.5 million; however, consolidation decisions with an unknown outcome may result in the savings being more or less than estimated.



Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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