Two St. Louis police commissioners are defending their oversight of the police, which has come under fire in the exploding controversy over the department’s relationship with a towing company. Board President Chris Goodson and Vice President Julius Hunter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the board acted properly by hiring lawyers to investigate the department’s relationship with St. Louis Metropolitan Towing. The lawyers reported that Police Chief Joseph Mokwa’s daughter and a number of officers got free use of cars from Metropolitan Towing, which had a lucrative contract to tow and impound cars. The lawyers found no crimes had been committed and that Mokwa hadn’t known about the practice until April.
The commissioners learned that Mokwa hadn’t told the board’s lawyers everything he knew about his daughter’s freebies. Mokwa insisted that he has been “forthcoming and explicit” with the board. In an emergency meeting last Friday, the board accepted the terms of the chief’s retirement, sending him off with more than $100,000 in severance, full benefits and legal representation for pending lawsuits. The board has been criticized in the media for its handling of the case. Mayor Francis Slay, a board member, questioned whether the other four members, appointed by the governor, are accountable.