You’ve heard the saying. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There has been a recent push by certain individuals to return the St. Louis Police Department (SLPD) to local control. Putting the SLPD under City Control is the first step towards STEALING the pension, because the City needs the revenue. The reason why the St. Louis Police Department’s Pension System is solvent and profitable is because it was not under City Control. The proponents for local control give various reasons as to why the SLPD should be put back under local control such as crime statistics, corruption, accountability, taxpayer representation, but refuse to say it’s about the Police Pension Fund. They claim it has nothing to do with the Police Pension Fund; however upon closer scrutiny it is always about the money. Anyone who can not see that needs better glasses.
Carl Bearden wrote, “The City of St. Louis does not control its own police department…there is a persistent and unrelenting crime problem in St. Louis. It’s no secret that St. Louis has unfortunately been ranked as the No. 1 crime-ridden city in the country…Your community would demand that action be taken to address the problem.” How does the police department being under City control change the crime problem? What would the 28 Alderman do to change the crime problem? Having the police department under City control would have no effect on the crime problem; in fact it may cause an increase in crime.
Carl says, the citizens/taxpayers of the City of St. Louis deserve City Control over the SLPD, because the people are not being represented. The police respond when people dial 911 for the police. The SLPD is working just fine under the current system, the people are being represented and protected.
While Carl Bearden was a former state legislator it’s been said that he supported state control of the SLPD. When did Carl get this epiphany that the SLPD needs to be under local control? Was it when he became a lobbyist for Rex Sinquefield? Carl, how much are you being paid? Rex Sinquefield wants the SLPD to return to local control. Who is Rex Sinquefield? Why does he want the SLPD to be under local control? What’s in it for him?
Carl says another reason to return the SLPD to local control is corruption. There are corrupt people in the world and Carl points out the resignation of Vince Bommarito from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Board of Commissioners, after Bommarito made a special request to have his nephew let out of jail after being arrested for a DWI. Bommarito was one of five members of the Police Board and I guess Carl is calling him corrupt, however using that type of logic try multiplying the possibility of corruption by 28+. Carl wrote, “… I haven’t seen pictures of aldermen or the mayor being arrested for corruption.” Maybe that’s because they do not have control of the Police Department.
Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, Republican Steve Tilley favors returning the SLPD to local control. Ironically, he received two hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from Rex Sinquefield. Could people say Rex Sinquefield is buying influence? Does anyone find this type of behavior troubling? I do.
Mayor Francis Slay said, “This is about accountability to the people of St. Louis. They elect their officials and the (police) department should be accountable to them.” When people have a complaint against the SLPD they contact the Mayor’s Office. Mr. Mayor, you do sit on the Board of Police Commissioners, therefore you do have some influence on the decisions made about the SLPD.
Furthermore, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, (E&A) comprised of the Mayor, the Comptroller and the President of the Board of Aldermen reviews the proposed budget, holds hearings with departments and citizens whom may voice their concerns. The Board of E&A may recommend changes to the proposed budget. It then goes to the Ways and Means Committee of the Board of Aldermen, before going to before the Board of Aldermen for consideration. The Board of Aldermen may reduce the amount of any item in a budget bill, except amounts fixed by statute or ordinance obligations.
According to an article in the St. Louis Business Journal dated February 18, 2009, Chief Dan Isom of the SLPD requested a budget of $168 million for fiscal year 2010. The City of St. Louis allocated $151 million for the SLPD 2010 budget. According to the city’s records the actual budget for FY 2010 was $128,887,662 for the police and $11,813,173 for the Police Retirement System, which totals $140,700,835. Therefore, the City does have some control over the police budget. The day to day operations of the SLPD would remain the same under the current system or under local control with Chief Isom running the department.
Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff to Mayor Slay in St Louis wrote an editorial on the 24th State’s blog criticizing the Tea Party’s opposition to local control of the SLPD. He wrote, “The third reason is the most puzzling. The Tea Party used to be against bailouts. It was against the Wall Street bailouts, the auto company bailouts, and the mortgage bailouts. But, apparently, it is willing to live with the possibility of a state bailout of the City of St. Louis. Because the police department is a state agency, it is likely that if the City of St. Louis were to become insolvent, the state would have to bail out the city.” The City of St. Louis is having financial problems. Is Rainford suggesting the City of St. Louis is becoming insolvent? The proponents of local control say it is not about the money in the Police Pension Fund, yet one would have to become suspicious of the City’s intentions when one hears comments like Rainfords’ or Alderman Quincy Troupe’s regarding St. Louis’s financial shape.
Alderman Quincy Troupe said, “I get tired of people saying we (City of St. Louis) don’t have money and we don’t have police. We may not have money and we may not have police, and that may be due to the fact of the police pension fund, because the police pension fund has all of the money. The State Legislature gives them the authority to have unfettered access to the money. Right now the greatest love on the City of St. Louis is the police pension fund. And the pension fund is over - over funded in my opinion and the benefits are unbelievable and unrealistic and exceeds anything in the Metropolitan St. Lois area. So how you gonna sit and tell me we don’t have any money for crime prevention, but the State makes us pay unrealistic numbers to the police pension fund.”
When Troupe said … “because the police pension fund has all of the money”… “gives them the authority to have unfettered access to the money”… “the greatest love on the City of St. Louis is the police pension fund.” … “the benefits are unbelievable and unrealistic”…sounds to me like he wants to have control over the money to use as he sees fit.
The proponents of local control say that experts have testified that the City could not raid the Police Pension Fund; it is written in the bill to prevent that from happening. It depends on what side of the argument one takes and who is paying them, when it comes to expert testimony. Laws can be changed. There is a process in gaining access to the Police Pension Fund and the first step is City Control. It is always about the money! The St. Louis Police Departments’ Pension System is solvent and profitable, because it was not under City Control and it should not be penalized for good management. The SLPD is working just fine under the current system, the people are being represented and protected. There is no need for it to be put under local control.