St. Louis officials have cut a bargain with the police union that may return control of the St. Louis police department to local leaders, ending 150 years of state control, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mayor Francis Slay and the St. Louis Police Officers Association agreed on terms of a bill in the state legislature that could give police officers a collective bargaining agreement for the first time ever and would protect current officers’ salaries, benefits and freedom to live outside the city.
In exchange, the police department would become a division of the city Department of Public Safety. The mayor’s office would pick the police chief. And city leaders would not only set the department’s budget, but determine how that money is spent. “I think it’s the city changing its approach as much as us changing our mind,” said association Business Manager Jeff Roorda. “The threat of filibuster by our Senate allies encouraged the city to come to the table. “It’s a very delicate compromise,” he said. A five-person state board currently runs the department. The governor appoints four members, and the city mayor fills the last spot. The arrangement dates from the Civil War era.