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St. Louis City looking to cut costs, eliminate redundancy for city services

(St. Louis Public Radio)
The logo of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department as displayed on the side of a patrol vehicle.

The St. Louis Board of Commissioners have approved a plan to reduce the number of city police districts.

The city currently operates a total of nine districts that were established back in 1962.

But Police Chief Dan Isom says the department had twice as many officers back then and more than twice the number of citizens to serve.

“In the last 30 years we’ve lost about 1,000 officers,” Isom said.  We used to have 2,200 officers, now we’re down to about 1,300 officers.  But the slots for those command structures are still the same.”

Isom says the process of combining several districts will happen this year and make it easier to allocate resources across the city.

He says the consolidation shouldn’t affect the number of officers on the street, but will likely mean fewer police colonels and lieutenants.

City Hall is pushing to hire a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm to spend upwards of five months evaluating how the city’s police, fire and EMT services are staffed and organized.

Public Safety Director Eddie Roth said service analysis should have happened years ago as decreasing population and improved technology make it much easier to do more with less.

“Calls for service for fire are way down,” says Roth.  “So far this year we’ve had one fire death.  Technology has changed the way the business operates, we have proliferation of smoke detectors, we have conservation districts.”

The move comes at the same time the police department seeks to combine several of its districts.

The city is also pushing legislation to reform the firefighter pension system, as well as a November ballot initiative to return control of the St. Louis Police Department to City Hall.

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