The battle over the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners is coming to a head in Jefferson City. Others (see www.24thstate. com) have documented the board’s odd history and surprising success. I’ve pointed out that the Constitution is silent on the matter. With legislation coming to a vote, I’ll state my personal position flat out.
I believe that abolishing the Board would be a setback, not just for St. Louis Police Officers, not just for the city of St. Louis, but for entire region.
First, St. Louis City government is a wreck. Decades of one-party rule has driven away people and businesses. The St. Louis Public Schools had to be seized by the state because of perpetual incompetence. The last thing this city needs is a police department as corrupt and ineffective as the rest of City Hall.
Second, the most prominent opponents of the board, like Rep. Jamila Nasheed, represent the most radical elements of Missouri politics. Nasheed is closely allied with the New Black Panther Party
Third, the St. Louis Police Department, despite its many challenges, has been and remains one of the premier metropolitan forces in the country. That’s due in part to the oversight from the governor-appointed board. Without that board, every police officer will work at the pleasure of the mayor of St. Louis.
Fourth, I question the measures taken to get this legislation through the Missouri House. I don’t have anything against Rex Sinquefield, but I would like to know what his end-game is. Sinquefield, who opposes the state-appointed board, invested $200,000 in Steve Tilley’s uncontested race for the Missouri House. Tilley subsequently used his position as speaker to drive this legislation through.
Tilley’s extraordinary efforts include appointing a radical member of the House as chairwoman of the Urban Affairs committee, assigning HB71—the bill to abolish the Board of Police Commissioners—to that committee, and, regrettably, to resort to smearing opponents of his legislation as race-baiters. (I will discuss this more in a later post.)