South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Green Park mayor breaks tie against adding night and weekend patrol officers

Green Park mayor breaks tie against adding night and weekend patrol officers

The Green Park Board of Aldermen picked up its policing discussion Aug. 15, with split opinions on if the city should increase or change its dedicated police hours.

The board has had police hours on its agenda for the past few months, but the discussion has not resulted in any changes in the city’s policing. 

Recently the board has looked into contracting with the Lakeshire Police Department for a third officer to cover weekends. Lakeshire sent over pricing prior to the meeting allowing aldermen to look at the potential cost.

One eight-hour shift per week would cost $16,640 per year. City Administrator James Mello said some costs that were not reflected in pricing were car and insurance costs. He estimated around $70,000 for the car and equipment, plus around $12,000 per year for extra things like gas and insurance.

Mayor Tim Thuston, who has been against policing changes since the issue was introduced recently, said the board is looking for “solutions for something that might not be there to solve.”

“A lot of this came up as a result of what happened Easter Sunday … when we had all the problems with break ins in the business court,” Thuston said.  “What we have decided to do is invest in three Flock cameras, they’ll protect all three of the major corridors.”

Ward 1 Alderman Carol Hamilton contended that her issue with crime in the city is not just because of Easter, but is due to the city seeing more break ins than it should, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and during nights.

Fellow Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton and Ward 2 Alderman Ron Slattery were on Hamilton’s side regarding the addition or change to policing hours. Broughton was also in favor of adding either another officer from Lakeshire or changing hours to cover overnight or weekend shifts.

The mayor argued that the city is already partially covered, per eight-hour shift, when dedicated police are not in the city. He said the city would be better off buying cameras, strengthening the neighborhood watch and encouraging citizens to report issues to police.

“We have contracted for four 30 minute patrols (per shift),” Thuston said. “I don’t think we want to spend the money for what we’re going to get.”

Hamilton and Slattery said they have spoken to citizens around the city and a recurring theme is that they don’t believe the city has enough police coverage. Revisiting the issue with nights, Hamilton asked Green Park Officer Jeremy Hake if nights are as big of an issue as she thought.

Hake said only five out of 37 calls for service happened in the city between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in July.

“When people are sleeping they don’t know their catalytic converter is gone until the morning, so that call time frame has nothing to with when these things are occurring. I’m in favor of a night patrol officer physically being in the city in a car that says Green Park,” Hamilton said.

Joining the discussion, Ward 3 Alderman Joe Monteleone also asked Hake a question — “Do you think we have adequate police protection?”

Hake said police like sitting at QuikTrip and Walgreens to watch for crime, and the position of Green Park in the middle of the precinct causes more police to drive through than other places. 

The board decided to vote on if the city should mix up its current police hours, allowing officers to set their own shifts as long as one covers weekends. Aldermen were split 3-3 on the change, with Hamilton, Broughton and Slattery voting yes and Monteleone, Ward 2 Alderman Matt Farwig and Ward 3 Alderman Martin Finn voting no.

Farwig said he didn’t believe forcing the officers to change up their work-life schedules was the solution in this case.

The tie resulted in a tiebreak vote by Thuston, who voted against the change.

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