Police Oversight St Louis
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
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By Jim Salter, AP

Eight years after Michael Brown’s death pushed the St. Louis region front and center into the national debate over police accountability, the city’s elected officials and its police associations are at odds over a new oversight plan.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, a progressive Democrat elected last year in part on her pledge to hold police more accountable, this month signed into law a bill creating a Division of Civilian Oversight, an independent agency to investigate allegations of police misconduct and use of force incidents.

Jones, who is black, said at a news conference before the Aug. 3 bill signing that black St. Louisans are more than four times more likely to be subjected to force by police than whites.

“Accountability is the first step in building trust, and that will strengthen our enforcement and police department in the long run,” Jones said.

The new plan has drawn a stern response from the St. Louis Police Officers Association and a smaller officers’ group, the Ethical Society of Police, an association that largely represents black officers. The St. Louis Police Leadership Organization, representing officers with the rank of sergeant and above, also opposed the change.

All three police associations joined together in a lawsuit seeking an injunction preventing the law from going into effect in September.

Sherrie Hall, attorney for the Ethical Society of Police, said officers welcome accountability, but that the new law is flawed because parts of it conflict with Missouri’s Officers’ Bill of Rights law. For example, the St. Louis law allows officers to be questioned by oversight investigators immediately after an incident, without seeing the complaint or obtaining a lawyer.

“Those things are important,” Hall said. “They’re important if you’re going to have an effective police force and be able to recruit and retain officers. They’re important because an officer should have the ability to know what they’re being accused of before they’re giving a statement, and to think it through.”

Hall also worries that good officers could be targeted if a board member is simply anti-police.

Brown’s death, and the deaths of others at the hands of police, “pushed civilian oversight and police accountability into the national spotlight,” according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Brown, a black 18-year-old, was shot to death during a street confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Wilson was later cleared of wrongdoing but the shooting led to months of often-violent protests.

A member of the St. Louis County Police Department points his weapon in the direction of a group of protesters in Ferguson, Mo. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

The incident happened in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, not St. Louis. But the resulting scrutiny shone a light on the sometimes troubled and confrontational relationship between police and black men throughout the St. Louis region.

That spotlight grew brighter after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis officer in 2020. Today, more than 200 oversight boards exist across the nation, though they cover only a fraction of the approximate 18,000 police agencies.

A lone protesters skates past St. Louis Police headquarters as several thousand more arrived Sunday, June 7, 2020, in St. Louis. Protesters gathered to speak out against the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

How well they’re doing is up for debate. Information compiled by Mapping Police Violence found that the number of people killed by police annually has remained constant at slightly above or below 1,100 every year since 2013.

“One of the major challenges with oversight programs is the limited empirical evidence demonstrating their effectiveness,” the Justice Department report stated.

St. Louis officials hope the new approach is a step in the right direction. It replaces a review process established in 2015, the year after Brown’s death. Under that process, complaints about misconduct and use-of-force were first investigated internally within the police department, then potentially reviewed by a Civilian Oversight Board. But most cases ended with the internal police review.

The new Division of Civilian Oversight will be led by a commissioner, retired FBI agent Matthew Brummund, and staffed with 10 investigators. The nine-member oversight board can make recommendations, but the personnel department decides when discipline is appropriate. Appeals go to the Civil Service Commission.

The law also establishes a new unit under the direction of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for the investigation of use-of-force issues. Gardner and police have a long history of butting heads.

In 2019, Gardner placed dozens of officers on an “exclusion list,” prohibiting them from bringing cases. The list was developed after a national group accused the officers of posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

In 2020, Gardner filed a lawsuit accusing the city, the St. Louis Police Officers Association and others of a coordinated and racist conspiracy aimed at forcing her out of office. The lawsuit alleged violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was adopted to thwart efforts to deny the civil rights of racial minorities. A judge eventually tossed the lawsuit.

Sgt. Mickey Owens, president of the St. Louis Police Leadership Organization, called giving Gardner a role in investigating police shootings “downright frightening.”

A 2021 report by the St. Louis civil rights law firm Arch City Defenders found that St. Louis officers killed 69 people from 2009 through 2019. Fifty-eight of those killed were black.

Among them was Anthony Lamar Smith. White Officer Jason Stockley and his partner tried to corner Smith in December, 2011 after observing what they thought was a drug transaction on a fast food parking lot. Smith drove away, nearly striking the officers.

During the ensuing chase, Stockley said, “Going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know,” according to dashcam audio used as evidence in his trial.

Smith, 24, was fatally shot by Stockley at the end of the chase. At his 2017 trial, Stockley testified he thought Smith was reaching for a gun that was found inside Smith’s car. Prosecutors alleged that Stockley planted the weapon.

Stockley was acquitted, leading to weeks of often violent protests.

John Chasnoff (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

Activist John Chasnoff has been pushing for a new form of better police oversight in St. Louis for 23 years.

“I think it’s a big step forward,” Chasnoff said of the new plan. “It’s very difficult for any organization to investigate itself, hold itself accountable. This, for the first time, takes those investigations out of the police department and I think that’s a big step toward fairness and unbiased investigations.”

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56 COMMENTS

  1. Big hint. if you don’t fight, run or pull a weapon or act like an idiot, you will probably not have a problem with police when they show up. Follow their orders and be courteous and less of you fools will have a problem. Lots of the problems are the parents fault for teaching them to run or fight the police.

    • So, what’s wrong with running? Why are people shot in the back while fleeing? I have a serious problem with that, Ed. That, and that whole “I feared for my life” and “I thought he was reaching for a gun”. It’s all BS. If a kid escapes, if he’s a bad kid, you’ll meet him again. No need to shoot him just for running. That’s what you call “trigger happy”.

      Police have brought a lot of this on themselves. If you REALLY want that kid running from you, CHASE HIM DOWN!!! Oh, sorry, to many cops are lardarses who can’t run 100 yards. Easier to shoot, right?

      • That rarely happens as you describe. Most often people shot in the back by cops were semi turned and shooting or pointing a weapon at the cops. Or they already fired at the cops and thus present a threat to the public. Or, as with Michael Brown, they weren’t shot in the back at all and none of the popular narrative of the event actually happened.

        That being said, cops do have an “us verses them” attitude, and an authoritarian attitude not in keeping with the US constitution. Most of the things cops are jacking people up for shouldn’t be illegal at all. If another person or another person’s property was not harmed then it should not be illegal and the “perps” should be left the hell alone.

      • Further, while I might think a “civilian oversight board” is a good idea in principle, I do not think the people pushing are honest brokers. I thoroughly believe they intend to use the board as a weapon against both cops and deplorables IE; if a cops shoots YT or a Trump supporter then the board probably won’t care, but if a cop shoots a black yout who was just turning his life around then he will be hung by the board.

        • Oh, and to answer your initial question, it is common knowledge among people who frequent the great outdoors that you shouldn’t run from a lion or tiger in the bush, or a bear or pack of wolves in the forest. As one of the guys in Taxi Driver observed “Cops will chase anything”. Don’t activate their predator drive.

      • I this “shot in the back” thing just a Hollywierd Western trope or something of concern around the world. No such squeamishness about shot on the battlefield.

      • Paul, does your career offer a significant probability of going home in a flag draped coffin each day? Do the people you serve pour buckets of water over your head, teach their kids to slap/spit/talk filthy/disrespect police. Have you talked with officers to understand what they deal with every shift. Didn’t think so.

        How about a Civilian Accountability Board for the Defective Citizens….or even better, the PARENTS that are creating those Defective Citizens….. who the police have to deal with every shift. Don’t like how you are treated? Change your brand…..you built it. While we’re at this accountability thingy, how about an Accountability Board for politicians???

        • “how about an Accountability Board for politicians???“

          We already have one of those, we call it an ‘election’.

  2. If elected leaders would do their job as per state and federal Constitution then none of this would ever need to be an issue.

  3. “For example, the St. Louis law allows officers to be questioned by oversight investigators immediately after an incident, without seeing the complaint or obtaining a lawyer.“

    Oh, that would be terrible, only lowly ordinary citizens should be questioned immediately after an incident, not police officers. They really need time to go home and have a nap before sitting for an interrogation.

    • The St. Louis law may allow investigators to question officers without lawyers but that doesn’t mean the cops have to answer those questions without a lawyer present and they would be idiot’s if they did. Citizens don’t need to answer questions either without a lawyer present. Tishaura can piss off.

    • And experts like Massad Ayoob recommend that you limit your statement to
      (1) claiming that you are the victim and that you will cooperate in your assailant’s prosecution;
      (2) pointing out witnesses and physical evidence;
      (3) insisting on consultation with an attorney before saying anything more.

    • MinorIQ once again proves that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut.

      Yes, MinorIQ, police should NEVER be entitled to more “due process” protection than the average citizen. Does it impact your partisan BULLS*** to note that these protections were largely implemented at the behest of (your beloved) public sector unions (you hypocritical s***weasel)???

      Now, let’s do politicians. Liz-ard Cheney increased her net worth 600% over her (short) tenure in Congress. Malig-Nancy Pelousy and her criminal husband have “created” a $100 million net worth, largely by being able, with Congressional approval, to completely flout insider trading laws. Bernie “Man of the People” Sanders has (i) never held an actual job in his life, and (ii) has become a multi-millionaire, owning three mansions, by proselytizing for communism. How about we make THEM follow the same laws as everyone else, too?? Wasn’t that what Newt Gingrich proposed in his “Contract with America”???

      If you’re not a TOTAL hypocrite, perhaps you would support that, in addition to a prosecution of Hunter Biden, and a REAL investigation of Senile Joe and his “10% for the Big Guy” (which is not disclosed ANYWHERE in his financial reporting). Or are you just a lying partisan liar???? Inquiring minds want to know.

  4. St Louis County needs to be more like Ozark County, only life emergencies and violent felonies will be pursued there.

    After all, when seconds count, cops are just minutes away. They aren’t there to stop crimes, but investigate after the fact – victims are always the first responders!

    Poor Karens who criminalize what offends their sensibilities…

        • Mocking the conservatives for proving they’re every bit as principled as the liberals they hate for being unprincipled… it’s a hobby. Yellow Peril/Mongolian Octopus and Reefer Madness redefined by Nixon to be “Health and Safety”…

          “We’re not racists, we just approve of funding and enforcing this guy’s policies!”

          “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.” ~ Harry J. Anslinger

          It’s like, hey Conservative Clown, aren’t the 18A and 5A right to property part of the same constitution you claim to love? And what about those illegal alphabet agencies your beloved cops join joint operations with – that suddenly ok?

          1. Nazi sympathizers
          2. Communist apologists
          3. The king’s Tories
          4. Bootlicker

          Each of them backs the blue over their fellow citizens. None were ever patriots of the Constitution.

  5. Cops should resign and move to more friendly law enforcement cities. Let Tishaura and Sherrie (and the fools that voted for them) deal with the crime without them.

  6. Brown, a black 18-year-old, was shot to death during a street confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson

    “street confrontation”? Hmmm… not quite what I read. He had attempted to seize and control the officer’s duty weapon, firing a shot at the officer which, if memory serves, injured the officer. Perp ran away then came back for more. Yes, that was “a confrontation”, but not an ordinary one. The punk had come back to finish his earlier attempt on the officer’s life, charging him and refusing to stop when so ordered. Injured officer was barely able to deal with his attacker.

    When I read the name Gardiner as being involved in the new game, that’s alll I needed to see to understand why the police will NOT have this new set of handcuffs imposed upon them. Then turns out the head of this new outfit is ex FBI.

    Sounds like big trouble on about twenty legs. I’d have to agree, the concept might be useful but the execution in current form is BAD news. Have to come down on the side of the officers.

  7. Accountability for cops is a good thing. When the accountability rules are written by folk who hate cops or who see the world through race- tinted glasses, then it will not be accountability, it will be vengeance.

    The result will be cops who do not take risks and cops who find jobs in more hospitable places. The bottom line will be citizens exposed to even more crime of increasing seriousness.

  8. “…black St. Louisans are more than four times more likely to be subjected to force by police than whites…”

    Not in any manner attempting to be racist, but there is no word as to whether or not the same are also four times more likely to require “force” during an arrest or questioning due to resulting actions.

    I am, BTW, totally in favor of police and other LEO agancies having to account for their actions. In this vein, I believe the now almost univesal use of body cams, as well as other surveillance cams and even passersby phone recordings will help determine the truth v BS. The real problem has always been to keep the MSM from blowing incidents out of proportion without having any facts.

  9. Fuck that place! Let it burn! My hope is all cops in that town who can; retire, and the rest find jobs elsewhere. Let the savages end each other.

  10. The woman should have been rejected as mayor just because of her first name if nothing else. Stupid names indicate a stupid person, usually Leftist. Until the real people of America take back the cities, none of them will be fit for human occupation.

    • “Stupid names indicate a stupid person“

      And this from an individual who chooses ‘Happy’ as his first name…

        • none so blind.
          just read a teacher’s essay about names and advancement. a common northern indian surname is dikshit and she taught one first name of sukhdeep.
          he preferred being called john.

  11. quote———-“Those things are important,” Hall said. “They’re important if you’re going to have an effective police force and be able to recruit and retain officers. They’re important because an officer should have the ability to know what they’re being accused of before they’re giving a statement, and to think it through.”———–quote

    Translation: The crooked cops need lots of time to think up lies to cover their latest beatings or murders.

    The latest video to go viral (thank god someone recorded it ) was the beating of a white man by half a dozen jackbooted storm troopers. Its a miracle he survived it. Due to the fact that he was white their asses are all grassed.

    • dacian the demented dips***,

      Cool story, bruh!! Now do Hunter Biden, Senile Joe, Malig-Nancy Pelousy, Schmucky Chuckie Schumer (and his fat, ugly, unfunny niece), Liz-ard Cheney (who increased her net worth 600% in a very SHORT Congressional career).

      Or do you ONLY hate on cops??? Cops definitely need more oversight, and should NEVER have more “due process” protections than ordinary citizens. Now, do yourself a favor, and go research what ACTUALLY happened in LA with the Rampart Division investigation AND the aftermath. (As if you EVER do any actual research!!)

      You become more of a deluded liar every time you post – just take the friggin’ L and go away.

  12. “Eight years after Michael Brown’s death pushed the St. Louis region front and center into the national debate over police accountability…”

    I like how this AP reporter cannot fathom that the same standard should apply to citizens who think they can attack police and not get shot. If police are abusing their power, take them to court. You can’t do that if you’re dead.

  13. Responsibility for bad behavior belongs to the person behaving badly and getting into situations that create problems. To simply say that blacks are 4 times more likely to have problems with the police actually means that more blacks than others are misbehaving. While some law enforcement has been found to be wanting it does not fly as an excuse for the level of black crime. Look at all that celebrity blacks who have made it that ultimately wind up breaking the law and being arrested or go to jail. Lets stop making excuses for people regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual preference. A criminal is a criminal and they should all be treated the same way.

    • ^^^ Ding Ding Ding…. We have a winner right here! ^^^
      Your not going to win a street fight with the cops.
      Take it to the courtroom. Act like a criminal you get treated like one.

  14. AP is so populated with morons. “Tishaura” did NOT “sign a law” Cities don’t have “laws” they adopted ordinances or pass resolutions or have bowel movements.

    WTF is a “Tishaura”? “Affirmative action race baiting idiot” to long a name?

  15. For those of you unfamiliar with the City of Saint Louis aka the “Lou” aka “Shyt City” it is separate political entity from St. Louis County and is it’s own county like Baltimore. It is one of the most violent cities in the US and has been for over 60 years.

    While the reported demographics evenly divides St. Louis at 44% negro and 44% Caucasian that takes into account all ages, the majority of the Caucasian population is older adults. The real numbers below 30 Y.O.A. is the telling statistics:
    12.9% Caucasian, 77.8% negro, 3% Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander, 5.8% Hispanic/Latino, 0.1% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

    The City of Saint Louis is responsible for 75% of the inmates in custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections. This takes into account the convicts coming from Kansas City (Jackson County). Nearly every inmate from St. Louis is incarcerated for a violent crime and not their first one. This is why:

    “black St. Louisans are more than four times more likely to be subjected to force by police than whites.”

    Any questions?

  16. “Big hint. if you don’t fight, run or pull a weapon or act like an idiot, you will probably not have a problem with police when they show up.”

    Now that’s dis-respecting their culture.

    And every culture must be respected, with the exception of ‘White Supremacy’.

    ( /S, if you missed the dripping sarcasm…)

  17. “We have to do something” is never a good starting point.

    As others above have indicated, there is support for holding police accountable for their actions. Based on this report, this attempt is flawed.

    I would rather address the elimination of qualified immunity.

  18. Cops absolutely need, and should be subjected to, real, serious oversight – but, then, so should politicians (of BOTH parties). Cops (and politicians, and bureaucrats) should never have more “due process” rights than an average citizen – hell, they should never have more rights of ANY kind than the average citizen.

    Do away with the court-invented doctrine of “qualified immunity”. Make ALL politicians, and all cops, and all bureaucrats subject to ALL of the same laws as average citizens. Require individual liability for cops, politicians, and bureaucrats, and if the defendant lacks the financial wherewithal to pay the judgement, it comes out of the defendant’s union pension fund (think THAT might motivate a few cops and politicians to drop a dime on their felonious fellows??).

    Sure, I’ve got no problem with “accountability” – as long as it applies EQUALLY to EVERYONE. Otherwise, feel free to osculate my anal sphincter.

    • Cops, bureaucrats and politicians should have no immunity. They should have to be bonded and they pay for it themselves. Then when they screw up and can’t afford it any longer or can’t get one, no more job.
      Won’t really work for elected pols but for cops it would.

  19. I cannot see the problem. Surely any professional Police Force would welcome an independent overview especially because of the recent bad publicity for the police. The Police are not everyone. They hold a very special and responsible place in society. If they do not like it then maybe, with a lot of extra training in self restraint , they can become the likely new SCHOOL SECURITY Officers.

  20. “I cannot see the problem.”

    Which means that any arguments that you might present, are void because you don’t have the ability to observe and investigate the premise.

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