High-profile attacks in downtown St. Louis have prompted Police Chief Sam Dotson to ask the Missouri Highway Patrol to assign troopers to work beside city officers, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dotson contacted the patrol last week in response to a surge in violent crime downtown over the final five months of last year. Dotson said he foresaw a six-month pilot program in which about a dozen troopers would join forces with city police officers. “We think that if we can work with the highway patrol to bring a little more police visibility and added presence downtown, it will have an impact on crime,” he said. “And if downtown thrives, the region thrives.”
Dotson said the plan should not be construed as a panicked response to crime. “I don't want to give people the idea that we're shooting off flares because the city is sinking,” Dotson said. “That's not the case. We're just thinking outside the box so that, at the end of the day, our community is safer.” Meanwhile, an open meeting at City Hall on the creation of a civilian oversight board of the police department devolved into a melee last night, which the Post-Dispatch said further exposed the city's deep divisions over race and law enforcement. The crowd became unsettled when police officers began testifying in opposition to the bill. At times, Alderman Terry Kennedy, who chairs the committee, struggled to keep order. The noise in the room spiked as police officers attempted to testify. When Jeff Roorda, the business manager of the city's police union, stood and called for order, the crowd grew louder.