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Friday, April 12, 2024

Missouri Republicans Push for State Takeover of St. Louis Police Force

'... to build the police department back to where it actually needs to be to put a crime plan in place and actually address crime... '

(Headline USA) Missouri Republicans are pushing for a state takeover of St. Louis’s police force amidst skyrocketing crime rates in the city.

For much of its history, the St. Louis Police Department was directly overseen by a state board appointed by the governor. But in 2013, voters approved a statewide ballot measure to return control of the force to local officials.

Since then, St. Louis has experienced a massive surge in crime, with homicide rates rising at least 8.2% every year for the past four years. 

As a result, the Republican-led state House passed legislation last month to allow Gov. Mike Parson to create a new board to oversee the city’s police force. The board would be made up of five members — four commissioners appointed by Parson and the city’s mayor.

The state Senate is expected to debate the plan before its session ends next month.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, a Democrat, blasted the bill and suggested Republicans are racist.

“This is about power and politics,” she said. “If you look at all of the cities where we are facing control or overarching authority over local law enforcement, what’s the trend? They’re all led by black mayors.”

St. Louis is one of several cities to defund its police department in recent years. Under Jones’s leadership, the city redirected millions of dollars away from law enforcement to mental health resources and civil rights enforcement. Jones has also publicly decried the “arrest and incarcerate” model of policing.

If Republicans pass a bill empowering the state to oversee the city’s police force, they would be able to force St. Louis officials to direct more money toward increasing patrols and hiring new officers.

“Is this going to fix crime?” Republican state Rep. Brad Christ said. “Is it going to go from 200 homicides to zero? No. But this is the start … to build the police department back to where it actually needs to be to put a crime plan in place and actually address crime.”

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