Crestwood looking at contracting police services from St. Louis County

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CRESTWOOD, MO (KPLR) – A debate raged Tuesday night in Crestwood that could decide the fate of its police department.

At a board of aldermen meeting city officials said they were taking preliminary steps to possibly turning to St. Louis County for police services.

The city is hurting financially from the steady decline of Crestwood Mall dating back to the early 2000`s.

Tonight St. Louis County Police Chief and some of his leadership were invited by the city of Crestwood to explain how a contract with the county would work.

Some citizens worry about officers familiar with the community being assigned to other areas in the county.  There are also concerns about officers assigned to Crestwood being sent to emergencies outside the city.

The county provides services for a host of other cities, is internationally accredited and has resources that can help a municipality, according to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

The estimated cost for a one year contract with St. Louis County would be $1.7 million dollars.  The city estimates it currently spends $2.8 million on police services annually.  The county would guarantee the annual cost to the city of Crestwood would not increase by more than 5% each year.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says he does not see any Crestwood police employees losing their jobs.  They would continue to work out of the police department in Crestwood, but would go through a background check and a one year probation period.  Officers would also undergo a polygraph test.

Crestwood officers would lose their seniority, and face being sent to work in other parts of St Louis County if a contract is approved.

Mayor Gregg Roby said he felt the county guarantee of two officers per shift was too low, but said the city was still in the preliminary stages of examining the county's presentation.

Roby says the city is still months away from making any decisions.  He said a public hearing will be held later this year.  He said the city will also look into outsourcing with a different police department.   Another option would be asking taxpayers for a tax increase in order to maintain the city’s police department.