St. Charles County could create police department

7:11 PM, Aug 14, 2012   |    comments
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By Grant Bissell

St. Charles County (KSDK) - It's a plan involving police and politics. St. Charles County could make some major changes in law enforcement including adding a department. Sheriff Tom Neer says it's a great idea. But not everyone's on board.

If Neer has his way, the sheriff's department would turn over law enforcement duties to a new county police department, similar to the way St. Louis and St. Louis County operate.

A St. Charles County official who chose not to be identified says the Sheriff's plan will more or less divide the existing resources and won't require much additional cost. It could also cut down on political division inside the department when the sheriff's job comes up for election every four years.

But County Councilman Joe Brazil says it's not about the cost.

"Tom Neer is an excellent sheriff and his intentions are nothing but good," said Brazil. "However the reason that an election in the sheriff's department every four years for approximately six months out of that four years is disruptive to law enforcement and disruptive to the sheriff's department to me is not a good enough reason, because it's taking the electoral process out of the choice of the people."

The proposed plan would keep the Sheriff as an elected position who would be in charge of serving warrants, evictions notices and courthouse security. The new police chief would be approved by the county council and the new department in charge of patrol and investigations.

Brazil says people in the county like to vote for the person in charge of law enforcement and that right shouldn't be taken away.

The official says the county has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years and electing a sheriff to handle law enforcement is an old-fashioned way of thinking. He feels St. Charles County needs to join the 21st century.

For the new department to be created the county council would have to approve the idea and then it would be up for a vote. But the bill was just brought to the council late last week and it could be some time before members approve or dismiss it.

St. Charles County residents told NewsChannel 5 they don't care what law enforcement calls itself, as long as officers respond to calls and taxes don't go up.



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