Although the discussion about a return of the control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is more usually cast in financial terms ' that the people who pay the department's bills should have a say in how that money is spent ' the more important and more urgent issue of local control is accountability for public safety. St. Louis has a large police department and a high crime rate. Are police officers being used correctly and in the right places? That is a question that St. Louisans can only currently ask as observers. Regaining control of the department, which seems much more likely now than ever before, would increase accountability of the department for making our neighborhoods safer.
I thought of that when the department sent me a press release noting that it had activated its 30-member Violent Offense Team to conduct an urgent investigation into a possibly related string of crimes in south St. Louis. I completely concur with Chief Dan Isom's decision to activate the team in this instance. However, I wonder ' as I suspect residents of other neighborhoods do ' if there might be other instances in which this team should have been deployed as well.
The Missouri General Assembly must act on all of its business before the end of the day on Friday. I hope that the return of local control is one of its actions and that Governor Nixon quickly signs it.