Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mayor vs. Chief Feud Hurts City

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mayor vs. Chief Feud Hurts City

Article excerpt

I THINK I'D rather take a job stoking the furnaces in hell than be the police chief of St. Louis.

Since last year, it's been one battle after another as politicians and political cronies have sought to either have the city's straightforward chief removed or to make his life as difficult as possible.

If it wasn't Jim Conway calling special meetings of the Police Board to try to embarrass Chief Clarence Harmon, it was other politicians condemning him for doing his job well.

The saving grace for the chief, however, continues to be his support among the public. He's probably the most popular chief the city has had in years. His willingness to prosecute corrupt police officers as well as more traditional criminals has earned him respect from the police and from the public.

Until recently, it seemed that Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. was among those who respected the chief for his hard work, innovation and straight-shooting demeanor.

Now, it seems, the two men are engaged in a high-stakes feud.

Fights between St. Louis mayors and the police department are not uncommon. Mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr. engaged in a public shouting match with Police Board President Homer Sayad in 1983, eventually telling him, "I've had enough of your crap."

Schoemehl's temper poured out again in a meeting with police pension trustees in 1990 when he called them "pigs . . . and cheap bastards."

But those disputes had more to do with policy.

This time it's personal. Or at least it sure looks that way.

The recent harsh exchange of letters between Bosley and Harmon revealed an ugly relationship between the two. The mayor said in a letter that he has seen no plan from Harmon to fight crime. Harmon replied by reminding the mayor that the mayor serves on the Police Board, where strategies were discussed. The exchange has left some people wondering whether it has anything to do with Harmon's insistence on punishing police officers who break the law or don't follow police policy.

In recent months, Harmon has:

Reassigned Bosley's bodyguard, who was linked to a scandal involving off-duty security work.

Personally arrested two detectives, including a part-time bodyguard for Senate Majority Leader J. …

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