Defund police? St. Louis Mayor dares Mo. lawmakers to visit neighborhoods

Regional News

ST. LOUIS, Mo.– St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones says she has invited State Rep. Nick Schroer and his colleagues to come to visit St. Louis and tour the neighborhoods she said would benefit from the city’s planned move to defund the police.

Earlier this week, Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) and other legislators are pushing for Gov. Mike Parson to call for a special session to discuss public safety. The lawmakers want to stop the state’s two largest cities from defunding their police departments.

“Rep. Nick Schorer and his crew are out chasing clout while I am chasing solutions to the root causes of crime, poverty, housing instability, bank desserts, and more,” said Mayor Jones during a morning question and answer session on Facebook.

Mayor Jones said the city doesn’t have time for politicians who don’t even live here to be beating up on St. Louis and attacking the people of our city to score cheap political points.

“Republicans in Jefferson City attempted another attack on the right of our city and voters to make our own budgetary decisions. Just like they did when they took away our minimum wage increase or severely limited our ability to enact common-sense gun laws, Republicans on the outskirts of St. Louis are trying to tell us what is best for our city,” said Mayor Jones.

She also stressed that the move to defund the police comes with the support of the police chief and the public safety director.

Mayor Jones explained the city’s plan is to reallocate $4 million for police positions that have been vacant for more than a decade to other critical services to support law enforcement so our police can focus on their job; solving and preventing violent crime to make St. Louis safer for everyone.

She also says St. Louis has more officers per capita than any other city our size. She also added that there are still cadets going through the academy and will be joining the department in the future.

In the past month, Kansas City Council agreed to cut $42 million out of Kansas City Police Department’s budget, moving that money to the community services fund. Mayor Quinton Lucas said it will prevent crime. 

Mayor Jones says she has been in contact with Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City to combat this attack on local control.

“We extended invitations to Rep. Schroer and his colleagues to visit our respective cities and see the direct impact disinvestment has had on our neighborhoods, especially black and brown communities,” explained Mayor Jones.

She says neither mayor has received a response yet.

Wednesday, Schroer held a press conference at the St. Louis Police Officers Association in south St. Louis.

“Our state’s two largest cities are in crisis right now due to crime. A special session is the only way to address this issue to keep people safe and ensure law enforcement officers have the tools needed to keep the community safe,” Schroer said during Wednesday’s briefing.

He also said if St. Louis City and its prosecutor, Kim Gardner, do not get serious about arresting criminals and prosecuting cases against them he said he would push for the state to take back local control.

“To send a message to the City of St. Louis and the city attorney Kimberly Gardner, if the city does not get serious about arresting criminals and prosecuting those cases against them, I myself will push for the state to take back control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” Schroer said.

Mayor Jones also addressed other topics including the use of federal stimulus money from the American Recovery Act. She said an advisory board that recommended how to spend the latest federal stimulus funding will submit its proposal to the board June 12.

The committee behind the funding plan said some of their priorities include health care access, mental health help, housing assistance, relief for small businesses and the unemployed, violence intervention, and more resources for youth.

Bringing back a Midnight Basketball program is one priority. Other recommendations include opening a safe space for those without a home and creating an intentional encampment for individuals not ready to transition to a shelter.

Any spending will require the approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The board is made up of Jones, Comptroller Darlene Green, and Board President Lewis Reed. Any spending would also require approval from the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

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