ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar is speaking out after allegations that his officers tried to hide the fact they weren’t doing what they were supposed to do to protect MetroLink riders.
Belmar issued a statement saying his department, along with officers from the city of St. Louis and St. Clair County, Illinois, are working “diligently” to ensure rider safety despite a lack of cooperation from Metro.
The department’s statement is as follows:
“This Media Advisory is in reference to the accusations publicly made by Metro through a local newspaper outlet. Our Department will look into any allegations raised by the media, Metro, or by the citizens we serve. St. Louis County Police officers are committed to ensuring the safety of Metro passengers and employees and they work hard every day to do just that.
A limited number of carefully selected images from over a two and a half year period that were pulled from an improperly-placed surveillance camera in a 12×14 private room appeared with the article. This room is used to monitor security cameras, hold briefings and complete report writing. It is also the only room officers have to take breaks from work and weather as well as change clothes and equipment at the end of a shift.
An allegation against our MetroLink officers’ behavior in the security office was brought to our Department’s attention by Metro, on only one occasion, in December of 2015. The camera, aimed at police and monitored by a third party—Bi-State—is clearly an invasion of privacy. One officer shown covering a camera did so in order to change his clothes at the end of a shift.
Chief Jon Belmar stated: ‘The St. Louis County Police Department, along with our partners from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, continue to work diligently to ensure ridership safety, oftentimes in spite of the lack of cooperation or communication from Metro security. Regardless of the critic’s opinion, however motivated such an opinion may be, I am confident that the doubling of manpower on the line by the St. Louis County Police Department last year partnered with the good work of our police officers, is making a difference. We must move forward for the safety of our riders and leave the politics and infighting behind.'”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a front-page, above-the-fold column, written by Tony Messenger, claiming county police officers were loitering together instead of patrolling trains and platforms, and at one point, covered a surveillance camera lens at the Hanley station to escape detection.
The county police department’s statement called the photos in the column “carefully selected images” over a two-year period, adding they were from an “improperly placed camera” in a private room where officers change clothes.