152-Year State Control of St. Louis Law Enforcement finally about to End

Saturday, August 24, 2013
St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson

St. Louis is only days away from taking back control of its police force, which was been governed by the state since before the Civil War.


On September 1, the city’s mayor will once again oversee the police. Not since 1861 have city leaders controlled those responsible for maintaining law and order in Missouri’s second largest city.


The city lost its authority over the police just before the outbreak of the Civil War, when pro-South politicians wanted to keep Union sympathizers in St. Louis from gaining power.


Local politicians have argued for years that it was time for St. Louis to reclaim authority over the department, saying state control was inefficient and interfered with political accountability.


Last November, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition A that authorized the transfer of police authority from a state-run board to the city’s Department of Public Safety.


St. Louis’ new police chief, Sam Dotson, said the switch would improve the operations of the force.


“It is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and look internally to make changes, which under state control, we couldn’t,” Dotson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


But many rank-and-file officers have opposed the change in the past. They fear local politicians might try to raid their pensions or influence how the department functions.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

St. Louis Police Department Preparing for City Control (by Christine Byers and Nick Pistor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis Regains Control of its Police Department from State after 151 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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