The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee wants monthly updates from Police Chief Sam Dotson on the status of his department and crime in the city.
Committee members agreed Wednesday morning to request the updates as an interim solution while they work to establish a more permanent system of accountability. The police department has been under local control since 2013 after the city gained oversight from a state board.
Alderman Antonio French said regular updates would allow the committee and the public to ask questions and raise concerns, particularly about the city’s high homicide rate. He also wants to improve police transparency. French said the department has less accountability now than before it came under local control two years ago.
"I think it’s the least we can do to bring some level of transparency and accountability to the system," he said. "Frankly, it’s what used to happen under the old police board system. I think once we got local control, we expected more transparency and accountability not less."
Chief Dotson said in a phone interview Wednesday that the department has as much oversight as every other part of city government.
"I have no trouble sharing information, sharing the crime patterns that are going, sharing information that I can, but I want to make sure they’re productive meetings and not based on political agendas," he said.
Alderman Terry Kennedy, who chairs the public safety committee, also said before future discussions, the committee should obtain a legal opinion on how much authority it has over the police department.