Missouri voters will consider giving complete local control over the St. Louis Police Department.
Currently, the Kansas City and St. Louis Police Departments are the only police departments in Missouri and some of the few in the entire country not controlled entirely by local officials.
Because of past corruption, the governor currently appoints the commissioners who oversee the St. Louis and Kansas City police departments. The Kansas City Council approves the final budget for the police department, but the board has final control over spending. This sometimes creates conflicts. Kansas City's mayor does serve on the police board.
KCPD has gone in and out of local control since the Civil War Era. The department went back to state control during the Pendergast years because of corruption.
Proponents of Proposition A say passage of the proposition could change the future of the Kansas City Police Department and the way it's managed.
"It'd be similar to the structure we currently have but instead of the governor appointing the board, the board would be appointed by the Mayor. The money would be spent and decided on here," said Pat Duke, president of the AFL-CIO of Greater KC.
Critics say the proposal is a closed-door deal between St. Louis elected officials and Rex Sinquefield, a billionaire businessman who is actively in political campaigns.
"The way Prop A was written it would exclude St. Louis from being able to put together effective citizen review that would be transparent and accountable to the citizens of St. Louis," said Donnie Moorehouse, Organizing Director of Missouri Jobs With Justice.
The group has been working towards local control of both Kansas City and St. Louis' police departments. But Moorehouse says the ballot measure is not the model his members had hoped for.
"It's an unfair process that's not transparent, that doesn't seem to bring about an accountable local control of police. It excludes St. Louis from being able to setup an independent citizen review board," Moorehouse said.
Duke said he believes "checks and balances" will eliminate "or at least deeply decrease any chances for corruption." Duke considers the Nov. 6 vote a free litmus test for Kansas Citians.
Other advantages to the model, Duke says, include department savings of anywhere from $500,000 to $3.5 million a year because pension and insurance programs would become streamlined and the model would eliminate a layer of management.
But he admits the details aren't set in stone as to how every citizen would get a say in decisions.
To see the official ballot page click here and here for links to the Missouri Secretary of State's Office.
Copyright2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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