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Reestablishing local control of St. Louis Police starting to be thorny issue among Mo. Politicians

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

By Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kwmu/local-kwmu-955252.mp3

ST. LOUIS – There are currently three bills that have been filed that would restore local control of the police department two in the Senate and one in the House.

Now, faced with a ballooning budget deficit predicted to reach 1.2 billion in fiscal 2011 the city says it could save $7 million by cutting the strings between the police department and Jefferson City.

Still, after over 150 years the issue remains contentious among legislators, including St. Louis County Republican Jim Lembke.

Allington: "Would you support a bill to give the city back control of the police department?"
Lembke: "No, I've made a commitment to the police officers that I would not. That has been my position since I've been in the legislature."

City police organizations actually support the current system, claiming that the structure keeps the department out of messy city politics.

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