Stenger proposes minimum police standards legislation

Steve Stenger

Steve Stenger

County Executive Steve Stenger is asking the County Council to pass a bill establishing uniform standards for St. Louis County’s 57 municipal police departments.

“All St. Louis County residents deserve consistent, quality law enforcement provided by well-trained officers,” Stenger stated in a news release. “This legislation will establish uniform standards for all police departments and will reinforce trust between law enforcement and the community.

“The public will know that every police department, no matter the ZIP code, meets the same standard. This bill will ensure equal access to quality law enforcement and will enhance public health and safety.”

The bill would require that all municipal police departments:

• Conduct background checks on all new hires, including drug screenings, criminal background checks, character assessments and psychological examinations.

• Properly license and train officers. All officers must graduate from a Peace Officers Standards and Training-approved center.

• Must show compliance with Peace Officers Standards and Training continuing education requirements.

• Notify the Missouri Department of Public Safety whenever a police officer is hired or terminated.

• Provide 24-hour service with at least one officer and supervisor on duty.

• Establish and make public policies for use of force, vehicle pursuits, lawsuits, complaints and firearms discharges.

• Establish a policy prohibiting contact and/or detention based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability or economic level.

• Are able to accept and bond-out prisoners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Warrants may not be kept active due to the inability to process a prisoner.

• Comply with state laws on reporting traffic-stop information

The standards used in the legislation were developed in cooperation with county Police Department leadership. They reflect key findings from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, St. Louis County Police Regulations and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, according to the release.

“By implementing uniform standards for municipal police departments, we can ensure consistent, quality public safety services for all residents,” Stenger stated. “These baseline standards are aimed at providing uniform, consistent protection of life and property regardless of where St. Louis County residents live or travel in the county.”

Stenger made the following comments at a press conference this morning:

“Thank you for joining us this morning.

“This week I am asking the St. Louis County Council to pass legislation that will require all municipal police departments to meet fundamental standards in such critical areas as officer training, reporting of crime data and background checks. To build trust between police and residents, this legislation will require that all departments establish use-of-force polices that they make available to the public.

“Our goal is to ensure that all county residents receive consistent, high-quality law enforcement regardless of where they live or travel.

“The disparate patchwork of policies and protocols among St. Louis County’s 57 municipal police departments leads to inequalities that negatively impact the health and safety of our residents.

“I’ve been working with law enforcement professionals for months to address this problem. Our final product reflects key findings from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, St. Louis County Police Regulations and CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

“This bill will also apply to agreements between municipalities. Community safety and health are not enhanced when one substandard department takes over police work for another. Consequently, all departments that provide law enforcement to other jurisdictions must also meet these standards.

“I want all of our citizens to have equal access to quality law enforcement. This legislation is not aimed at any single department. Ultimately, we want all departments to meet the standards and deliver the public safety services our citizens deserve.

“Departments will have six months to comply with the standards set forth in this bill.

Standing with me today is St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar; Dr. Dan Isom, endowed professor of policing and community at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; and Kathy Osborn, executive eirector of the Regional Business Council. I am proud to have their support for this bill …”