There have been three different police associations that have been pretty upset as of recent. So angry, that they have filed a lawsuit to protect the city from an expansion of civilian oversight and accountability for the overall police department. Then, in the past month, Mayor Tishaura Jones had signed a law into a bill that would strengthen the city’s already existing agencies, such as The Civilian Oversight Board and the Detention Facility Oversight Board.
Which then moves towards the Division of Civilian Oversight. That’s quite the large entity within the state’s Department of Public Safety. With this new division, there’s oversight officials that can access the use of force. There will also be more of an accountability to misconduct complaints and independent investigation towards misconduct claims.
However, local policemen are not happy with these likely developments. They say in a lawsuit that the brand-new legislation is giving civilians an extreme amount of governance. Which in turn, will drive trained authorities out of their jobs and increase crime rates. The three local police groups are the St. Louis Police Leadership Organization, the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association and the Ethical Society of Police.
But the Mayor doesn’t see police accountability that way!
“When we put the public back in public safety, we are creating an environment where all members of the community are working towards accountability and safer neighborhoods in the long run. If you’re a good officer focused on serving the community … you have nothing to worry about.”
All across the United States, beyond St. Louis, civilian oversight is already making ripples of effects on the country. At least 200 oversight entities exist, according to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
Combined with the recent jail oversight bill, it seems clear the city wants to clean up its criminal justice system. City officials are obviously convinced that no changes to the police department will do any great harm to the city as a whole.
Honestly, it’s about time. Police officers have been running rampant on their own prerogative too long. The fact is, they aren’t employees of the government. They’re self-governing contract workers who take the terminology of “serving and protecting” too loosely. Instead of doing either, they either intimidate or punish.
And that type of rhetoric in the law enforcement business is simply unfair against anyone who can’t possibly protect themselves from such tragic run-ins. That’s to say the least. To say the most? Many minorities have been defenseless when facing the organizations of the police. It’s really necessary to see if while we can’t defund the police, we sure can police them.