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Gardner blocks 28 St. Louis police officers from bringing cases to court

St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announces on May 30, 2018, that her office will drop a felony computer-tampering charge against Gov. Eric Greitens.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, shown here in a file photo from May, has blocked 28 city police officers from bringing cases to court.

The St. Louis prosecutor’s office will no longer accept cases from 28 St. Louis police officers, and is reviewing the testimony they have offered in others.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner provided no details on why she is excluding the officers. In a statement, she called it her responsibility to defend the integrity of the criminal-justice system.

“To do our jobs properly and legally, we must have confidence in the accuracy and honesty of the oral and written reports of police officers,” the statement said. “A police officer’s word, and the complete veracity of that word, is fundamentally necessary to doing the job. Therefore, any break in trust must be approached with deep concern.”

Police Chief John Hayden issued a brief statement in which he confirmed that the department had received the so-called exclusion list and had notified the officers on it.

“At this time, we are considering how best to proceed and what if any actions to take,” Hayden said.

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said the union’s attorneys were also exploring possible legal action.

“We’re demanding that an explanation be given to the police department and to these officers as to how their name ended up on this list, and how they get off this,” he said. “It’s a little dangerous. There’s an explanation without any context here.”

The U.S. Supreme Court allows prosecutors to exclude individual officers whom a court has found to be dishonest, Roorda said, but it’s unheard of for a circuit attorney to put 28 officers on the list at one time without due process.

Being on the list, he said, hurts the officers’ reputations and the ability to do their jobs.

“When you’re answering a radio call, or you’re in an investigative unit, how do you get justice for the people of St. Louis, the victims of crime, when the court’s already told you, 'Don’t darken our doorway,'?” he said.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, in St. Louis for a Senate campaign stop, said he was “deeply concerned” about Gardner’s move.

“Every community in this state deserves the fair and equal protection of the law, and I am deeply concerned that this action will result in criminals going free, and vulnerable communities not getting the protections they deserve,” Hawley said.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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