Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Battle Brewing about Ordinance Giving Control of Police Back to Bi-State

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Battle Brewing about Ordinance Giving Control of Police Back to Bi-State

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS COUNTY * St. Louis County Police and Bi-State Development must reach an agreement about how to police MetroLink, or an agreement will be foisted upon them, according to a bill introduced on Tuesday.

The measure, introduced by Council Chairman Sam Page, was not publicly debated at the weekly meeting.

It won't come up for a vote until next week at the earliest.

But battle lines were being drawn behind the scenes.

The legislation would in effect strip County Executive Steve Stenger of power over Bi-State, an agency with which he has spent the past several months feuding.

The bill proposes that the county give Bi-State more than $4 million in additional funds generated through a sales tax to pay for police services.

That's money that Stenger recommended go directly to the police department last year. The council agreed at the time.

But a series of articles by Post-Dispatch Columnist Tony Messenger raised questions about the performance of county officers, who are assigned to MetroLink.

Officers covered up security cameras and sometimes weren't truthful about the officers' locations, according to records obtained by Messenger.

Under state and federal law, Bi-State can employ peace officers only through contracts with law enforcement agencies in the jurisdictions it serves.

Page believes that county police would be more accountable under a contract. Stenger has accused the agency of "failing to sign contracts."

However, drafts of proposed contracts between the county and Bi-State show that the county tried to eliminate provisions that the county document overtime costs and made it more difficult for Bi-State to track officers' movements and have those who are poorly performing removed.

While the sides struggled for control, the light-rail system saw shootings, stabbings and other high-profile crimes .

"There has to be some way for us and the general public to understand how many police officers are on the trains and platforms and what they are doing," Page said. …

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