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Officers vote 'no-confidence' in Chief Mokwa

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Police Chief Joe Mokwa

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Police Officers Association has voted "no-confidence" in their Department Chief Joe Mokwa for failing to increase pay and staffing levels.

The impact of that vote was diminished by the fact that less than half of the 1157 ballots that were mailed out were even returned.

Only 314 officers voted no-confidence compared to 245 who voted in support of the chief. In total, 56-percent of the returned ballots voted NO, 44-percent voted YES.

Police Officer's Association President Kevin Ahlbrand faults the chief for failing to improve staffing levels and raise pay. But, he cautioned that the blame does not lie solely with the chief.

"We recognize that the chief isn't responsible for all of our issues; we recognize that the mayor bears some responsibility, the Board of Police Commissioners bears some responsibility and the Board of Aldermen bears some responsibility."

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the fact that so few ballots were returned is hardly an indicator of widespread discontent.

In a prepared statement Slay says, "more important then the message sent by the low voter participation are the endorsements of people the chief works for namely, the Board of Police Commissioners, the Mayor, the Board of Aldermen and the citizens of St. Louis."

Chris Goodson of the Board of Police Commissioners says despite frustration over staffing and pay, the Chief is doing a good job.

"Leadership is going to have popular and unpopular decisions that comes with the job, but what we want to know is are you making the right decisions to provide the best public safety for the workers and the citizens of St. Louis."

The Police Officers Association is asking for more negotiations with the chief, in addition to having a role in the budget process.

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