Proposed bill could turn control of St. Louis police department to city
By Lakisha Jackson
(KMOV)-- A move Tuesday will renew the fight over control of the St. Louis city police department.
The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners has repeatedly come under fire following a series of scandals, federal investigations and a scathing audit by the Missouri State Auditor, who blamed the state appointed board of police commissioners for much of the problem.
The board, which includes former News 4 anchor Julius Hunter and Vince Bommarito, the owner of Tony's restaurant, is appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate.
State Senator Joe Keaveny will file a bill Tuesday that would turn control of the city police department to the city.
The state took over control of the city police department during the Civil War era because the Confederates in Jefferson City didn't want Union sympathizers in St. Louis controlling law enforcement in the city.
Last year, the board's quick dismissal of the towing scandal clearly tainted it's leadership, but the former board president stuck to his guns.
Federal agents raided the towing company, the manager was indicted, and questions linger about the role city police played in the scandal.
The brutal state audit raised even more questions about the board and according to Mayor Francis Slay and Senator Keaveny, it makes an even stronger case for local control.
Police commissioner Vince Bommarito said it would be a mistake to turn over control to the city. He said the state appointment system embodies the spirit of a citizen's oversight board, something that many watchdogs have been requesting for years.