ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) – At their meeting Tuesday night, the St. Louis County Council authorized an outside investigation into the actions of county police patrolling MetroLink.
But before that decision was made, there was plenty of impassioned comments on both sides of the issue.
“I’ve seen witch hunts before, and this is a witch hunt,” said Teamster spokesman Bob Burns in expressing his support for both the county police and Chief Jon Belmar. “If you don’t think we have professionals…we just buried an officer last year. Officer Blake Snyder, doing his duty and dying in the line of duty. So I don’t want anybody telling me that this county police department doesn’t do their job.”
But that is the gist of the allegations made against county police officers in a series of articles printed this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Using information gleaned from a public records request, the paper cited instances in which officers loitered in security offices, texting or even sleeping while they were supposed to be patrolling MetroLink trains and platforms.
County resident Diane Perry says there are questions that need answering, one way or another.
“I didn’t like seeing a room where the policemen sit around,” she told the council in reference to the Post articles. “Because they haven’t been on the platforms ’cause I have passed them and I have seen them in their cars.”
In voting for a resolution calling for an independent probe of the county police department, 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas agreed that where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.
“Based on what we’ve seen to this point, it looks like maybe something is amiss,” he said. “An investigation, I think, is warranted.”
A majority of his fellow council members agreed.
With Colleen Wasinger absent, they voted 5-1 to adopt a resolution calling for an independent probe.
However, what was not made clear during the council meeting was exactly which agency — state, federal or otherwise — will be conducting the investigation or when it might get underway.
The lone disseting vote was cast by 5th District Councilman Pat Dolan, who said he believed the internal probe first announced Tuesday on KMOX Radio by St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar should be sufficient to uncover the truth.