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St. Louis County Council calls for independent investigation of county police officers assigned to MetroLink

CLAYTON, MO – The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution aimed at getting to the bottom of how county officers are handling MetroLink security.  The resolution passed 5-1 and calls for an independent investigation into incidents recently reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The incidents involve a security camera in an area described as a break room for officers near a MetroLink stop.  Officers are pictured covering up the camera.  Metro officials have accused them of slacking on the job.

St. Louis County leaders have called the release the video as a political maneuver by Metro officials trying to minimize the amount of control St. Louis County will have regarding security MetroLink security.

There were a variety of views expressed during a public comment session of Tuesday night’s council meeting.  Some citizens spoke in favor of more scrutiny while others suggested the video was misleading.

“We just buried an officer last year,” said Missouri State Rep. Bob Burns.  “Officer Blake Snyder died in the line of duty so I don’t want anybody telling me that this county police department doesn’t do its job.”

Another speaker suggested an independent investigation should take place in order to restore trust in the public.

“Trust is important,” said the speaker.  “Chief Belmar and the police officers and the police officer’s association shouldn’t fear an investigation, they should welcome it.”

Chief Jon Belmar has said an internal investigation is underway.  He also said he met with the head of Metro’s public safety this month and no mention was made regarding officers covering up video cameras.

“When we have our police chief learning about these allegations, many of these allegations in the newspaper, there’s a problem and there’s a breakdown of communications,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.

Stenger left Tuesday’s council meeting with several questions regarding the resolution.  He asked if the bill’s sponsors had determined what independent body would conduct the investigation.  Councilman Sam Page said he would want to confer with Belmar before deciding.

Stenger also questioned what the scope of the investigation would be and how much it would cost taxpayers.

At the center of the dispute is a lack of agreement between St. Louis County and Metro officials over how the agencies will work together.  There is a memo of understanding in place but no written contract.