Breckenridge Hills city council postpones vote on disbanding police force

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BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, MO (KPLR) – There were contentious moments during Monday night’s council meeting in Breckenridge Hills.  The debate centered on a plan to outsource police services to the city of St. Ann.  Supporters say it will save the city money.  Opponents say they like their officers and do not believe the city is in a financial mess.

Residents packed the meeting.  Many of them voiced opposition to the plan.  Council member John Woodland, Sr. said no one informed him a plan was in the works.  He and other council members expressed frustration they were not included in discussions prior to Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Jack Shrewsbury said he wanted to make sure the plan was complete before presenting it to the public and the board for debate.   The board adjourned shortly after 10 pm without a vote.

“I think the mayor realized there’s not enough support for his plan,” said Woodland as he left the meeting.

The plan has already been approved by the city of St. Ann.  If Breckenridge Hills approves the plan, the department would be operated by the St. Ann Police Department.   Breckenridge Hills officers would have the opportunity to interview with St. Ann.   St. Ann estimates at least half of the current Breckenridge officers could be retained.

The deal would also allow Breckrenridge Hills residents to use the St. Ann swimming pool and recreation center at resident rates.

“The Mayor of Breckeridge Hills approached us,” said St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez.

Shrewsbury said St. Ann could provide his city with access to more detectives, a narcotics unit and prisoner transport services which could keep more officers on the streets.  The mayor estimated the savings could be nearly $400,000 a year.

He said the savings could be used to knock down abandoned buildings and repair streets.  He argued those type of improvements could bring new business into Breckenridge Hills.   Opponents aren’t buying it.

At several points during Monday’s meeting, shots were exchanged back and forth regarding previous administrations compared to the current one.   Some residents expressed frustration over the exchanges, wishing their leaders could stay focused on fixing the city’s problems.