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Law & Order

Ethical Society Of Police Report Details Systemic Racism in St. Louis Police Department

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File photo Camille Phillips
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St. Louis Public Radio
The report by the Ethical Society of Police calls on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to confront the systemic racism within its ranks.

The Ethical Society of Police is calling for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to confront the systemic racism within its department.

In a report released Tuesday, the organization detailed complaints by current and former officers and other employees of corruption within the department and unfair hiring practices.

The report includes 25 recommendations to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the city’s Department of Personnel. They include a grand jury review of in custody deaths and shootings by officers and requiring all undercover officers to wear body cameras.

Current and former officers and other police department employees worked on the report for about two months. It notes that the police department has inconsistently followed the city’s civil service rules since the city regained control of the police department in 2013 from the state.

“By allowing SLMPD to function as a half-city department and half independent organization with rules that conflict with Article XVIII of the Charter, the City has created a system that allows individual decisions to rule instead of consistent rules similar to other city employees,” the report states.

The department's failure to follow those rules hurt its ability to recruit and hire people of color, the report concludes.

“This has also hindered community support, harmed the retention of African American officers, impeded the promotion of African American officers, has allowed unfair discipline, emboldened employee corruption, lowered morale among employees, and resulted in numerous civil lawsuits,” its authors wrote.

A department spokesperson said Chief John Hayden wants to review the report before discussing it.

Abuse in the department has continued unchecked, said Sgt. Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police.

“Here we are in 2020, with lawsuits pending from two minority officers, one beaten, one shot, both of their careers are essentially over,” Taylor said. “We had all these things happening in our police department that were brought to light post the law changing and us being under civil service rules.”

The report also criticizes the department’s hiring practices and says that 74% of all police officer trainees in June were white despite African American applicants outnumbering white applicants.

“The more outside experience you have, the more helpful it is for getting you promoted,” Taylor said. “When you have officers who aren't being placed in those positions, mostly minorities, then there's a lack of diversity.”

The Ethical Society also recommends establishing whistleblower protections for officers and employees who report officer misconduct and crime and creating a diversity council.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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