(RepublicanNews.org) – The “show me” state will respond to St. Louis’ out-of-control crime problem by putting the state’s Governor in charge if the legislature passes a bill under discussion in early March.
The bill would return control of the crime-ridden city’s police department to an oversight board appointed by the Governor. From the end of the Civil War until 2013, St. Louis’s police department has been overseen by a state commission.
Bill supporter Justin Sparks, a Republican state representative, said the “experiment” of allowing the city to oversee its own police was a failure.
If passed, the law would give the Governor—currently Republican Mike Parson—the power to appoint four commissioners to the police oversight board. It would also require St. Louis’s mayor—currently Tishuara O. Jones, a Democrat—to have a reserved seat.
Support for the bill is more enthusiastic among Republicans, though some Democrats are also on board. They say the city has shown it cannot control crime, and its urban problems are spilling into the suburbs and hurting local businesses.
Many black St. Louis Democrats, however, said the effort was really a way for a white, Republican-dominated legislature to take power away from black politicians.
Rasheen Aldridge, a Democratic state representative who is black, said the bill “signals” to St. Louis residents that white lawmakers from outside the city “know what’s best for St. Louis.” Overhauling police oversight won’t solve the crime problem, he claimed, because it doesn’t address what he sees as the underlying causes of crime.
Aldridge said a lack of livable wages, stable homes, and what he called “policies that have been put in place to strategically disinvest” in “black and brown communities.”
Another Republican state representative from a St. Louis suburb, Jeff Myers, supports the bill and asked legislative colleagues to back the effort in order to help police officers “take back” St. Louis.
If the bill passes, St. Louis city will join Kansas City in the small circle of U.S. cities governed by a state board instead of by city officials.
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