This is the County Executive Report Sam gave at the County Council meeting on June 9, 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 evening everyone -
Everyone in St. Louis County deserves to be served and protected by an appropriately funded, fully staffed, and thoughtfully trained Police Department whose officers are accountable for their actions and interactions. The St. Louis County Police Department seeks to live up to the community’s expectations, and ordinarily does an exemplary job.
The tragic death of George Floyd shined a spotlight on use of force policies and practices in police departments around the country. The “8 Can’t Wait” campaign identified eight policies that local police departments should adopt to prevent police officers from using inappropriate force. I strongly support that campaign, and I am proud to tell people that the St. Louis County Police Department has all eight of those policies in place.
I am proud that the Police Department provides the public an annual report on the use of force by officers, contributes data to the Center for Policing Equity’s National Justice Database and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Use of Force Data Collection.
Additionally, the Police Department has established an early intervention system, and implements more training than the state requires. The department has provided several important training sessions in recent years concerning de-escalation and preventing bias and racial profiling.
Adopting the right policies and training programs are critical, but those are only the beginning steps. We also must ensure that the policies and training are having the intended effect.
Accordingly, I asked that the Board of Police Commissioners conduct a thorough and professional review of the St. Louis County Police Department’s use of force policies and training; engage the public by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the analysis; publicly report the findings of that review and seek community feedback; and, where necessary, reform the use of force policies and training programs.
While the Board does its review, I will be meeting and listening to a wide variety of viewpoints to understand how we can take this moment and finally make meaningful change that improves public trust and reduces crime.
Our Police Department is filled with good, hard-working professionals who understand their role and serve proudly. The department’s call to action must be to create a better filter for rooting out those few who are not cut out to be police officers so that they don’t undermine all the great work of the others on the force.