Belleville Police Provide Security For Mayor During Investigation Of ‘Credible’ Threat
Federal law enforcement officials reported to Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay that a “credible” threat was made against Mayor Mark Eckert.
Officers have been assigned to guard Eckert at City Hall and to remain in his neighborhood during the evening.
“The information that came to us was through our federal partners, law enforcement partners, that provided us with information and the fact that they considered it credible and they were doing some investigations,” Clay said on Wednesday.
The new security protocol for Eckert began Jan. 13. Clay said he can’t predict when the extra security will end.
The details of the threat or the federal investigation have not been released but Clay said the threat didn’t involve just Eckert.
“It was a broader picture than just the mayor but the mayor was one of those,” Clay said.
Clay said he hopes the threat would dissipate now that President Joe Biden has been sworn into office and that coronavirus restrictions may be loosened as vaccinations are being rolled out.
He said the threat didn’t involve the social media post that led to criticism of Eckert visiting a St. Louis restaurant last month.
Eckert said he accepted Clay’s recommendation for the extra security after thinking about the rioters who stormed the United States Capitol Building on Jan. 6 and about those accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan last year.
Clay and Eckert said threats have been made before but this was the highest level of security provided to Eckert since he became mayor in 2004.
After a shooting at the Kirkwood, Missouri, City Hall in 2008 during a council meeting, Belleville added security measures at City Hall for City Council meetings. The victims in the Kirkwood shooting included the mayor who died several months after the shooting.
Neighbors and people he meets at the grocery store have asked about the police presence and Eckert said he tells them it’s a precautionary measure.
“It’s unfortunate and I feel bad for the employees … who have been a little fearful, more than usual,” Eckert said.
“You watch the news any night and crazy things happen all over the world and sometimes even in the St. Louis metropolitan area but I just feel bad that … somebody wants to threaten me, it’s not good, but the pressure of this past week has put on employees and family, that’s what I feel bad about.”