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Mo. House committee votes to allow local control of St. Louis Police Dept.

The logo of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police displayed on a patrol vehicle. (St. Louis Public Radio)
The logo of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police displayed on a patrol vehicle. (St. Louis Public Radio)

A Missouri House committee has voted in favor of legislation to give St. Louis control over its police department, which has been under state control since the Civil War.

Those arguing in favor of local control say it's past time for St. Louis to regain authority over its police force.Harry Kennedy is Legislative Director for Aldermanic President Louis Reed.

"This past November, approximately 69 percent of the citizens of the city of St. Louis, and this bill refers to the city of St. Louis only, 69 percent voted in support of local control of their police department," Kennedy told the House Committee on Urban Issues.

Joe Steiger of the St. Louis Police Officers Association spoke against the bill.  He told the committee that being under state control makes the police department more effective and efficient.

"(St. Louis) city government does not run effectively," Steiger said.  "It's (an) overly burdensome bureaucracy that's filled with red tape and political favors...we want to remain as a professional police department and not become a political police department."

The committee passed the local control bill by a 7-2 vote.  It next goes to the House Rules Committee.  If it passes there, it moves to the House floor for debate.

Last year's version of the bill reached the House floor, but failed to pass.  It's sponsored again this year by State Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis).  It's sponsored in the Missouri Senate by Joseph Keaveny (D, St. Louis).

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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