St. Louis County to Vote on Criminal Justice Tax Hike

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Raises for police officers. More two-man cars. In-car and body cameras. More training. More police accountability. Those are among the benefits supporters say a half-cent sales tax increase will bring to St. Louis County police departments if voters approve Proposition P on the April 4 ballot, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of the estimated $80 million it would generate annually, $46 million would go to the St. Louis County police, prosecutor and corrections department. The remainder would be distributed among the county’s 90 municipalities, based on population.

Opponents argue that Proposition P would mean economic hardship. No accountability. Bigger government. Reinforcement of bad policing. And manipulation. They say county leaders should find money elsewhere, or approach voters with a better-developed request. County Executive Steve Stenger and Police Chief Jon Belmar have led the charge for Prop P. “If you look at any poll over the last five years, the No. 1 issue is public safety,” Stenger said. “People want to know, ‘Are our children going to be safe?’ ” Belmar said the measure would allow him to add about 110 officers to his roster of about 890, which he said could be “transformational.” County police patrol areas with about a third of the county’s population.

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