BEVERLY HILLS, MO (KPLR) – Another one of those tiny police departments in St. Louis County has just disappeared.
The North County Police Cooperative has now taken over policing in seven municipalities.
Beverly Hills and Velda Village Hills are the latest to go.
These are areas where police were known mostly for writing tickets, said Coop Police Chief, Tim Swope. Not anymore, he said.
Driving near Lucas and Hunt and Natural Bridge in North County, the municipalities come every few blocks. It’s Beverly Hills on one side of the street, Uplands Park on the other. In another block or two, Beverly Hills becomes Velda Village Hills. Most of the tiny towns have tiny police departments, known among residents for one thing above all others.
“I guess for the simple fact of so many police departments in this area and the way they give out tickets,” said Deborah Evans, who had stopped to see a friend at Velda Village Hills City Hall.
Hiring the North County Cooperative will save Beverly Hills more than $100,000 a year -- more than 25% of its budget, Swope said. The police cars were changing, he said, police practices, too.”
“Vastly different than they were before. We don’t walk into work every day with the obligation that we have to write a bunch of tickets,” Swope said. “When you do that, then you can give a fair account of yourself when you meet the citizens. You don’t feel compelled to be adversarial with the right off the bat.”
“If the speed limit was 35 and they were at 36, they would get a ticket,” Evans said. “I didn’t think that was fair. In the co-op, in talking to them, they don’t seem to believe in that same system.”
“If it was just us driving around in a circle, I don’t think we would be doing as good of a job. So, a big part of what we do is getting out there and making sure the community knows this is a partnership,” Swope said.
In its 13 month existence, the North County Cooperative has also taken over policing in Wellston, Pine Lawn, Vinita Park, Vinita Terrace, and Charlack.
At least two more muni's may soon follow suit but Swope won't yet say which ones.
The muni's are saving money which they're able to use for things like street repairs and equipment, he said.
Police are spending more time fighting crime and less time writing tickets.