ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis’s interim police chief is fighting back against those who say his officers “don’t deserve raises” in the wake of ongoing protests over police brutality. The city will vote on Proposition P next month, which would enact a half-cent tax increase to fund, mainly, police pay increases.

Related story: Judge Ponders New Rules for Police with Protesters

Lawrence O’Toole tells KMOX’s Mark Reardon say St. Louis Police have only shot armed people — and they have a right to protect themselves.

“We’ve had offices shot, stabbed, and officers have to protect themselves,” Reardon says.

Hear Reardon’s conversation with O’Toole at the 18:30 mark:

Of the estimated $19.5 million generated from the half-cent sales tax hike, $12.8 million would go toward police raises — but millions would also go to the fire department and circuit attorney’s office. The subsequent use tax would generate 3.9 million dollars — that money would go toward after school programs, mental health care and more. Some money will also be used for abandoned building demolition.

Related story: Public Safety Director Wants New Police Chief Hired Before Year’s End

St. Louis City already faces a shortage of 114 police officers, and O’Toole is warning that number will grow if he can’t offer competitive wages. He says current officers are dedicated to the city, but money talks.

“Like everybody else they have families, and they have mortgages and tuition to pay,” O’Toole says. “And if they can make more money working elsewhere, they are going to do that. So this will allow us to be competitive.”

Related story:St. Louis County Police Raises — Held for Politics or Fiscal Responsibility?

He points out the pay-gap between his and St. Louis County officers, which will increase to an average of about $10,000, after January’s pay raise in the County.
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