St. Louis County Council to consider putting sale tax hike on April ballot for increased policing and pay

CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) - Amid the recent wave of violence in St. Louis there’s a new call for more police in St. Louis County; including having two officers per car and better pay.

One possible answer is about to go before voters:  a half-cent sales tax, which, for an example, would amount to $100 on a $20,000 car.

It is a new day in policing St. Louis.  A city sergeant was shot twice in the face Sunday night.  He survived.  A little more than six weeks ago, St. Louis County officer, Blake Snyder was shot and killed.

St. Louis city police are now riding two officers per patrol car.

St. Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, hopes to move toward the same policy.

“It’s not only the two-man car issue.  It’s that additional capacity.  What can you do with that?” Belmar said.  “This is right now a difficult environment for a young man or young woman to come into.  So, I feel like we need to take at that salaries, we need to look at that not only to attract good officers but to retain good officers at the same time.”

The St. Louis County Council is set to approve the tax proposal for the April ballot at its meeting next week.  The sales tax would generate an estimated $80 million dollars-a-year; $46 million for county police, $34 million for the municipal departments.

Last week’s shooting of a Metro security officer at the Wellston MetroLink station is a prime example of the impact of added police manpower, Belmar said.  Two county officers shot and took down the gunman who shot the Metro officer.  Both the officer and the gunman survived.  St. Louis County Police just doubled police presence on MetroLink trains in the Spring.

“As it happened, when that officer was shot, 2 St. Louis County Police officers stepped off that train,” Belmar said.  “That’s about as ideal as you can get.  That would not have happened perhaps if we wouldn’t have had the additional capacity we built through 2016…the bottom line on this is, St. Louis County is an outstanding place to live, it’s a great place to raise a family.  It’s a great place to work.  We want to keep that way.”

The St. Louis County Police Officers Association contends County Executive, Steve Stenger, has been at odds with officers over pay raises.  Passage of the tax would address that.  The next St. Louis County Council meeting is Tuesday night at 6 pm.