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It won't really matter, but City voters to answer residency question

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – There's an issue on the St. Louis city ballot next week that deals with police residency. But the result of that vote will not make a bit of difference, because the state board that oversees the police department already decided the issue.

Proposition R asks the public whether police department employees, both uniformed and non-uniformed, should be able to move outside the city limits.

But in September, the state board that oversees the department allowed civilian employees to leave the city after they have seven years service. Uniformed workers got that privilege last year.

Mayor Francis Slay says the issue shows the need for local control of the police department. "Right now it's pretty much a moot item," Slay said. "The board of police commissioners pretty much made their decision on the issue. I think the vote of the people is just for information purposes, because I don't think this board is going to do anything different."

Slay had hoped to delay the board's decision until after the election.

But Lucille Elson, who heads the civilian employees' union, says it shouldn't be there, because the matter has already been decided.

"The thing that people have to understand is that the employees of the Metropolitan Police Department are not governed by the city of St. Louis. We're governed by the state of Missouri, and the board of police commissioners make our rules," Elson said, who added the vote is just a waste of taxpayer money at this point.