ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Local control is now a reality for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Mayor Francis Slay signed an executive order completing the transfer of power. Missouri voters approved the plan in November. The change takes effect Sunday at 12:01a.m.
Saturday marked the final meeting for the board of police commissioners. The board approves policies and purchases for the department. Members have been appointed by the governor. Under local control, the police chief will no longer report to that board.
“The chief will report to the director of public safety and the director of public safety reports to the mayor,” said Mayor Francis Slay.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department had been under local control dating back to the civil war era.
“It’s the only thing that I’m aware of that the city has fought for 152 yearsand it’s finally accomplished,” said Slay.
Chief Sam Dotson praised board members for their service. He believes the transfer of power will allow him to make quicker decisions. He said his department is already forming crime-fighting partnerships with other city departments.
“We took the health department into neighborhoods to look for lead contamination, we took the forestry division in to trim some vacant lotsand we took the building division in to board up vacant buildings,” said Dotson.
Critics of local control feel the mayor’s office will now have too much power. The St. Louis Police Officer’s Association had fought against local control.
Supporters of local control believe the move will help the department operate more efficiently.
“The first thing we’re going to do is tell our employees, nobody is losing their job,” said Dotson. “But as we go forward in time, we’re going to look for opportunities to save money and take that money and re-invest it back in the city of St. Louis.”
Dotson said those re-investments could lead to more police officers or new equipment.
Under state control, the process for selecting a police chief required the candidate to be a member of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. That process could change now that the mayor is in charge.