Belmar on MetroLink Allegations: It’s All Political

Alex Degman | @alexdegmanKMOX

CLAYTON (KMOX) — St. Louis County Police assigned to patrol MetroLink are under fire following reports in the Post-Dispatch about officers not patrolling, not being where they’re supposed to be, and in some cases sleeping through shifts.

Chief Jon Belmar thinks the Bi State Development Agency, which oversees Metro, is behind the reports.

“This is politically motivated. It’s very clear to me that it is,” Belmar told reporters Monday. “It’s because we have an unfortunate viewpoint on how we ought to move forward with ridership safety. I think it has to do with being a power play. They want their own police department although they assert that they don’t, but then they act like they have one. I can’t help that.”

Belmar says he hasn’t looked at any of the allegations himself — but he’s willing to do so.

“Many of these things are anecdotal. They’re out there. It’s similar to asking somebody ‘when are you going to quit beating your wife?’ I mean, I don’t know how else to say it based on that,” Belmar continued.

He wonders, though, why Metro didn’t bring these concerns to his attention during a long meeting on safety held earlier this month — that query assumes Metro knew about the problems well before the Post-Dispatch brought them to light.

“It’s time St. Louis County restores the credibility of its police department and that can happen only with the resignation or firing of Chief Belmar,” said Metro’s Public Safety Committee Chairman Vince Schoemehl in a statement. The former St. Louis mayor responded Monday after reading about the allegations.

“It’s ridiculous, I’m not going anywhere,” Belmar replied when asked about the statement. “Bottom line is the St. Louis County police department and County Executive [Steve] Stenger have done more to increase safety of the ridership on Metro than anybody else.”

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