This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on June 30, 2020. You are welcome to attend County Council meetings, which are currently conducted by webinar; they are open to the public and feature time for public comment. You can find information on the next meeting and dial-in information in the events section at www.stlouisco.com.
Thank you, Lisa, and good afternoon everyone –
I’m happy to announce today that St. Louis County achieved superior bond ratings from the nation's three leading bond ratings services.
The news comes as local governments grapple with declining revenue amid the challenges of COVID-19 and other recent events.
Moody's Investors Service gave the County its highest rating, AAA, praising the County's "conservative budgeting practices" and "prudent financial management" that will "sustain stable economic and financial performance over the long term."
FitchRatings also gave the County its AAA rating, calling the current management capacity "exceptionally strong" and prepared for "solid growth." The ratings service praised the early Stay-at-Home order and my office’s decision to suspend non-essential spending during the pandemic as wise budget practices.
Standard and Poor's announced that the County maintained its AA+ rating and "stable outlook.” S&P noted that my office "is well positioned to handle the pandemic and related recession during the next few years" due to "strong financial management."
I am proud that St. Louis County is rated so highly -- especially considering how challenging 2020 has been for all of us. The County is not immune to economic challenges faced throughout the community. Like other organizations, we've had to make some tough decisions to keep things stable. We will continue to make prudent decisions to ensure the County continues to receive high praise from our bond rating services and that we weather this pandemic.
Yesterday, I announced along with Mike McMillan, head of the Urban League, the start of a comprehensive review of public safety in the St. Louis County Police Department.
The review, which will be led by two nationally recognized former police chiefs, will examine how best to implement effective community policing strategies in St. Louis County, and review use of force training and practice. It will review policing, help reduce violent crime, and protect civil rights. It will explore the best ways to provide instruction including cultural, racial, and community sensitivity training, de-escalation training, and implicit bias training.
It will also explore the roles that police officers play in the public safety system – including an important review of where other professionals, such as nurses, advocates, and social workers, can provide a more tailored response in cases such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health crises.
The review will be entirely privately funded by Civic Progress companies and the Regional Business Council. No tax dollars will be spent on the review.
I decided to support the study after consulting with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, Judge Ray Price, who is chairman of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, and St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton.
Price and Barton have assigned Lt. Col. Troy Doyle to provide essential coordination with the review.
It is important we rise to the challenge of strengthening a public safety system that protects and serves all of us and keeps all of our residents safe from violence.
At the same time, we have to confront another crisis in our country and in our region. Systemic racism is ingrained in St. Louis and in our institutions, including law enforcement.
We have to have the humility to recognize where we fall short and the urgency to do something about it.
The former police chiefs conducting the review will be Chief Charles Ramsey and Chief Daniel Oates.
Chief Ramsey served as the co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The chief has led the police departments of Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, dramatically reducing homicides in all three cities while changing departments to better protect civil rights, provide more community policing, and improve sensitivity training.
Chief Daniel Oates has spent two decades as a leader in the New York Police Department. He also led the police departments of Ann Arbor, Mich., Aurora, Colo., and Miami Beach, Fla., where he oversaw significant reforms to strengthen police-community relations, institute strong accountability measures to address misconduct, and make communities safer by reducing violent crime. He is considered one of the foremost experts on community policing in the country.
I’m excited that these two highly-regarded law enforcement officials will help us find ways to be better, to strengthen an already resilient community, to take a Police Department that leads the region’s public safety and make it a model for other departments here and around the country.
That’s all for now. Thanks, Lisa.