1 min read
Posted on 02.16.10
  • 1 min read
  • Posted on 02.16.10

Despite the fervent wish otherwise of producers of local news programs and talk shows, I don't think the subject of local control of the St. Louis police department is a particularly good topic for a screaming debate. For one thing, proponents of both sides of the issue have a great deal in common. Both of us want safe neighborhoods and the resources to provide a high level of municipal service. So, you probably will not see me pointing fingers at the men and women in blue shirts (or white ones) who are worried what the change of a 150 years of doing things the same way will mean for their department. By and large, they do a difficult job well.

My arguments on behalf of local control of our own police department (something that every member of the General Assembly not from St. Louis and Governor Nixon already have of their own hometown departments) are fundamentally ones of equity and efficiency. Taxpayers should be able to exact a greater accountability for the largest single item in the City budget than they now can. And decisions about administrative savings should be the City's, not the state's.

I get along well with Chief Dan Isom and with the four commissioners of the Police Board. Generally, we agree on most issues. But, the direction of the local police department should not be solely dependent on the personalities of the players.