ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – The passage of Proposition P to hire more police in St. Louis County is sending a chill through the police union in St. Louis city.
Several months of strong campaigning paid off for St. Louis County officials with Tuesday’s passage of Prop P.
“We’re talking about a tax increase for police and public safety in St. Louis County, registering above 60 percent. I think it speaks volumes to how our residents feel about our police,” says St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.
He said with Prop P’s successful passage, work will begin immediately to boost police man-power by 110 officers, with pay raises scheduled to take effect the first of next year.
The $46 million raised for the county by Prop P will also be spent on body cameras for officers, police training, and pay raises for the prosecuting attorney and justice services.
The measure passed by a 63-to-36 percent margin.
But while police in St. Louis County are celebrating the passage of Prop P, there’s worry about the fallout for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
That worry is a mass exodus of officers fleeing the city to work in the county.
“It’s no secret among city cops that they’re treated very well when they go out to St. Louis County,” says St. Louis Police Officers Association Business Manager Jeff Roorda. “The county loves to get our officers, as do all the departments in the suburbs around here because in a year working for the St. Louis police department, you see more than a lot of guys in these outlying areas see in 10 years.
Roorda says 100 officers or more could leave the city to work in the county.
“That is a crisis,” he says. “We are at a critical mass right now in the city. If we lost that many officers, we would have to stop responding to anything but emergency calls.”
The St. Louis police force is authorized to employ 1,300 officers. Even before Tuesday’s election, the city police force was about 100 officers short.
Roorda says now is the time for city politicians to get more money for the city police department, where starting pay lags about $6,000 below the county, even before the passage of Prop P.