St. Louis would control its own police department for the first time since the Civil War under a bill moving forward in the House.
Sponsor Jamilah Nasheed, a Democrat from St. Louis, lashed out against the St. Louis police union as she opens House floor debate.
“I have said time and time again that if the police unions spent as much time fighting crime as it does fighting my bill, the city of St. Louis wouldn’t be the most dangerous city in the United States,” Nasheed stated as she opened House floor debate.
A state-appointed board controls the St. Louis Police Department. A proposal to transfer power to St. Louis city officials failed in the House last year. This year, the House gives initial approval to HB 71 on a 123-to34 vote.
House Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) simply said the logic of the issue is breaking through.
“It’s long overdue and I think when you look at the facts of the issue, it’s pretty clear cut,” Tilley told reporters after the vote was taken.
Under current state law, the governor appoints the four members of the board who serve along with the St. Louis Mayor.
Governor Nixon told a group of reporters earlier that his appointees have worked hard to oversee the department, not interfere with law enforcement.
“The discussion around this has been such that it’s kind of like a political discussion and that does concern me,” Nixon stated, “because it’s not a political function.”
The bill needs to pass one more vote to move to the Senate, where it might get a rougher reception.