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St. Louis Police Chief Hopes 2012 Marks Return Of Local Control

Brett Blume
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St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom addresses a large crowd Monday during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King holiday celebration at the Old Courthouse downtown. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom addresses a large crowd Monday during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King holiday celebration at the Old Courthouse downtown. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  When Governor Jay Nixon delivers his annual State-of-the-State speech tonight, among those paying close attention will be St. Louis poice chief Dan Isom.

He’ll be watching to see if the governor touches on the issue of local control for the St. Louis police department, expected to once again be a contentious issue in Jefferson City as a new session swings into high gear.

“Well I think local control makes a difference in terms of legitimacy,” Chief Isom tells KMOX News. “I think people feel that they have more connection with the police department. There are cities similar to St. Louis experiencing the same problems with violence who have local control.”

The St. Louis Police Department has been overseen by the state since the days of the Civil War, and is currently administered by a five-member commission, four of whom are appointed by the governor.

Meanwhile, Chief Isom announced that even though final numbers are still being compiled, a trend in fewer homicides over the past few years continues.

“In 2008 we had 168 homicides,” Isom explains. “In 2010, we had 113…fifty-five fewer in just two years.”

Through November of 2011, there were 110 murders recorded in the city of St. Louis.

In an effort to further reduce those numbers going forward, Chief Isom says they’ve instituted a number of programs, including the “Neighborhood Ownership” initiative in which residents make face-to-face reports to detectives, and work to establish police substations in their neighborhoods.

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