Police across St. Louis could blur lines between city, county limits

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KMOV.com

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM

 (KMOV) --   The lines between St. Louis City and St. Louis County could get a little more blurred as city and county police chiefs talk  about authorizing county officers to enforce city ordinances and vice versa.

"Some people think, because we got calls in here today, we're going to send county officers into the city and that is absolutely not accurate,” said Chief Tim Fitch of the St. Louis County Police Department setting the record straight.

"One of the things Chief Dotson and I have never talked about and have no plans to have these conversations is to have county officers patrolling in the city or to have city officers come out into the county to patrol neighborhoods or things like that,” said Fitch.

Fitch and St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson are talking about cross-deputizing officers. For example,   now if a county officer sees a violation outside Busch Stadium, that officer has to call over a city officer to handle the case. The county officer then has to be a witness in the case.

"Really it takes two officers to do what it would normally take one officer to do,” said Chief Fitch.

By cross-deputizing the officers of each department, the county officers could enforce city ordinances and city officers could enforce county ordinances.

Chief Fitch said from an overtime and management of resources standpoint, this just makes sense. It’s a more regional approach to fighting crime.

"It really erases that imaginary boundary along Skinker between the city and county when it comes to police jurisdictions. Criminals could care less where they travel. They don't think am I in the city or the county. I better not do this cause I' m in. They don't think that way so then why should law enforcement be thinking that way?” said Chief Fitch.

Fitch says from an operational standpoint, this just makes sense. It’s not about saving money. It's not about a merger between the city and county, it's about enforcing laws in a simpler manner.

"I cannot detect a downside to doing this.  Why would this be a bad idea?”

Both the St. Louis board of Aldermen and the County Board of Police Commissioners would have to approve the plan and the idea of cross-deputization has not been presented to either one yet.  But Fitch said if they both approve, cross-deputization could be up and running in a matter of months.

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