By approving a measure to let St. Louis County dictate law enforcement standards countywide, the County Council set in motion a likely legal challenge. Opponents of the measure approved yesterday say it abridges the rights of municipalities to govern themselves, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A coalition of municipalities, the St. Louis County Municipal League, an organization representing county police chiefs and other interested parties could file papers today seeking to block the legislation. The bill would require all 57 police departments in the county to meet baseline standards on use of force, vehicular pursuits and psychological testing among other criteria. Out-of-compliance departments would have six months to conform to the benchmarks. Failure to do so could result in fines or the threat of the county taking over operations. The measure passed on a 4-2 vote.
James McGee, mayor of the suburb Vinita Park, charged that the bill “basically” singles out “black, African-American officials. I'm just going to lay out like it is. They want them to go away.” Faye Miller, a board member from Pagedale, another suburb, likened the measure to an attempt by the county to install itself as a “slave master” controlling independent municipalities. County Executive Steve Stenger strenuously disagreed. “There is no targeting in the bill. The bill applies to everyone equally across the county. And in fact the bill has its main purpose that everyone in the county have equal access to quality law enforcement,” he said.