Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 12:00 am
We know that some local control advocates who have for many years fought and failed to change St. Louis city’s Civil War-era form of police governance are campaigning against Proposition A, a statewide ballot initiative that would dissolve the current Board of Police Commissioners appointed by the governor and effectively put the police department under the control of the mayor. We agree that these activists should be offended that Rex Sinquefield, who funded the initiative, crafted it with the mayor and the police union without input from the grass roots. We too are concerned with language in the initiative that could be viewed as attempting to seal records of internal police investigation and forestall a citizen’s review board. However, the intensified accountability of the police department to the voters who elect the mayor under local control, and considerable savings to the city, still make even this compromised form of local control better than the unwieldy and outmoded system we have had since the Civil War – and which the Legislature has proven unwilling to overturn for more than 100 years, though it would save the state money. Voters should pass the initiative and then concentrate on organizing to assure it leads to improvement in accountability to the public, which is sorely lacking under the present state-controlled system. We endorse a vote of YES ON PROPOSITION A.