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Epsten resigns from police board

Todd Epsten
Todd Epsten

By Rachel Lippmann

St. Louis – The former president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners is resigning.

Local business owner Todd Epsten announced his decision at a meeting of the board Wednesday just after being replaced as board president by Bettye Battle-Turner. Epsten then walked out of the meeting.

Turner received the votes of Governor Jay Nixon's three appointees. Epsten was the last board member appointed by former Governor Matt Blunt.

Epsten's resignation is the latest move in ongoing tension between Nixon and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Slay wants to end state control of the police department, but did not get the support he wanted from the governor.

The vote surprised Epsten, who said board members who ultimately voted for Battle-Turner had expressed support for him as recently as yesterday.

"It seemed to me that given the fact that the three appointees of Governor Nixon wanted to move in a different direction and I assume were carrying out his wishes, that the right thing for me to do was resign and allow the governor to have all the positions of the board appointed by him and move ahead as he sees fit," he said.

Mayor Francis Slay placed Epsten's name in nomination and voted for him. Espten's resignation, the mayor said was not based on personal ego.

"He's a business person," Slay said. "He really conducted himself in a very professional way, and I think the politics that he experienced today frustrated him."

Epsten said he still considers the governor a friend and political ally. Nixon's office would not comment on the vote.

It's not unusual for the board to reorganize its leadership positions when new members join. Nixon's three appointees all started in the last 15 months.