Showing strong support for local police, St. Louis County voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase yesterday to boost officers’ pay, hire more of them and make other public safety upgrades, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Unofficial returns showed the measure — Proposition P — was supported by 63 percent of voters. Among other plans for revenue from the half-cent tax hike: increasing the number of two-person police cars and the use of dashboard and body cameras. “I don’t think this is new support” from the public, said County Police Chief Jon Belmar. “This is support that’s been there before. Frankly, it’s humbling.” He cited citizen backing police received last year after officers were ambushed and killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La.
County Executive Steve Stenger, another key backer of the tax plan, said the results showed that residents see public safety as their top priority. “The purpose of the proposition is to keep officers safe as they keep us safe,” Stenger said. “This is probably the most transformational initiative for policing we have seen in this region for decades.” The measure was promoted by a $650,000 ad campaign funded heavily by major corporations. The tax increase will generate an estimated $80 million a year. About $46 million is earmarked for St. Louis County government — the police department, the prosecutor and corrections. The remaining $34 million will go to the county’s 90 municipalities, based on their population.