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Mo. House passes local control of STL Police bill

For the first time ever, the Missouri Househas passed legislation to give the city of St. Louis control overits police department, which has been under state control since the Civil War.

The vote was 109 to 46 in favor, and the bill now goes to the Missouri Senate.

Every effort to pass a local control bill has failed in years past, but this year the issue picked up steam and passed the House easily.  The sponsor, State Representative Jamilah Nasheed(D, St. Louis), cited a recent non-binding resolution in St. Louis, in which 69 percent of voters supported local control.

"I truly believe that once we bring local control back to the city of St. Louis, the people that pay the taxes there would have the opportunity to voice their concerns as to what's happening in the city of St. Louis when it comes to crime," Nasheed said.

Nasheed also said the bill won't touch pensions or residency requirements for St. Louis police officers.

But State Representative Cloria Brown(R, St. Louis) disagreed.  She told fellow House members that control of police pensions is the driving force behind the local control movement.

"Back in December, I guess it was, (I) was at a meeting," Brown said.  "And sitting next to me was an alderman from the city of St. Louis, and he said, 'We have to have (local control) because the pension of the police department is going to bankrupt the city of St. Louis.'  So don't tell me it's not about money...it's about money."

Other House members who voted "no" cited opposition from organizations representing current and retired St. Louis police officers.

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