Clarke to Lead Police Board after Winning Vote, She Declares Independence from Sen. Banks

Article excerpt

Anne-Marie Clarke became the first woman president of the St. Louis Police Board on Wednesday and immediately declared her independence from her friend and mentor, Senate Majority Leader J.B. "Jet" Banks.

"Everybody talks about him being my `godfather,' " said Clark, 44, who is actually the goddaughter of Anita Banks, the senator's wife.

"While I have had a lifelong relationship with Senator Banks and his wife . . . it has not affected me or influenced me. I was chosen because of my qualifications, not because of my relationship with Senator Banks."

Banks submitted Clarke's name for board membership to Gov. Mel Carnahan.

Before Wednesday's meeting, Robert Haar was sworn in as the newest board member. Carnahan had recommended that Haar become president, but Haar wound up voting for Clarke to promote unity on the board and end the perception of infighting, he said.

Meanwhile, Carnahan gave a pointed vote of confidence to Police Chief Clarence Harmon. Some board members recently criticized the chief for keeping Lt. Col. Ronald T. Henderson out of the loop in a police corruption investigation that involves a detective with ties to Banks.

The governor praised Harmon at a lunch Wednesday at Union Station. Carnahan also said Haar's appointment shows that he takes his role in the department's operations seriously.

Haar replaces former board president James F. Conway, who often wrestled with Harmon for control of the police department.

"I'm very hopeful that this appointment will keep the board on policy matters and leave the running of the police department to the chief," Carnahan said. …