The Town Of Flordell Hills Gets Its Own Police Department
It's home to just 822 residents living on 69 acres, but the city of Flordell Hills is getting its own police department.
The St. Louis County suburb's contract with its slightly larger neighbor, Country Club Hills, expires at midnight Tuesday. Some of Flordell Hills' six officers had already been patrolling the streets of the town, which sits between Jennings Station and West Florissant roads.
Flordell Hills had been paying Country Club Hills for police services since 2011. Its last contract was for $146,000. Before that, it had a contract with the city of Jennings. Flordell Hills' new police chief, Dennis Oglsby, said city officials realized they could offer much better, more personal service for the same amount of money.
"[Citizens] were not seeing the cars patrolling the streets," Oglsby said. "We had several residents saying they were coming home late at night, at like 1 in the morning, and there was no cars in the area."
Oglsby objected to speculation that the new police department is simply meant to generate money for the city.
"We have told the residents here that we will be patrolling our streets," he said. "Our officers are also going to be stepping out of the car and talking to people." He said the more personal approach would help solve crime, including open cases from four years ago.
'Nothing good will come of it.'
Tim Fitch doesn't believe a word of what Oglsby said.
"Nothing good will come of it," the former St. Louis County police chief said of the new department. "If they did not have a need to raise revenue, they would not need their own police department. My advice to drivers and motorists is to watch what you're doing through that little two-block area."
Fitch was a constant critic of small departments during his five years as police chief of St. Louis County. While all licensed officers must go through a police academy, he said, some of them may have attended 20 years ago or more.
"And I would tell you that you’ll probably see some abuse either by the police department or the city officials if they start really raising a lot of revenue," Fitch said. "It becomes very tempting to them." He pointed to the suburb of Charlack, whose police chief, who also doubled as the city manager, was charged with stealing city funds.
State law limits the amount of money a city can collect through traffic tickets to 30 percent of its total budget, but Fitch says it’s never been widely enforced.
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann