By Grant Bissell
St. Louis (KSDK) - Election Day is just over a week away and NewsChannel 5 is taking time to break down the issues that matter most to you.
Missouri Proposition A, also known as the local control initiative, is a controversial issue that's been debated for years.
St. Louis is one of only two cities in the country that doesn't have local control over its police department. The other is Kansas City. The departments are controlled by the Board of Police Commissioners in Jefferson City. Members are appointed by Missouri's governor.
A spokesperson for the Safer Missouri Citizens Coalition says that decision has roots dating back to the Civil War and it's costing taxpayers across the state.
"That's due to a lot of redundancies and overlap," said Anne Marie Moy. "That will go away if Proposition A passes."
Moy says Proposition A could save the city more than $3.5 million. She also says it protects department whistle-blowers from retaliation, provides that the pension system will still be managed by the state and would create a much less risky situation for the state.
"Say for example if someone decides to sue the St. Louis Police Department, the state's on the hook for that right now. The state and Missouri taxpayers."
But a group called Citizens Against Proposition A says the initiative blocks public involvement and transparency in the police department.
"It puts a lot of secrecy in the police force," said Mary Ratliff, President of the NAACP Missouri State Conference. "It takes the rights of the citizens to have a police review board and it would close off all disciplinary records from the public."
Supporters insist passing Proposition A is the first step toward a more transparent police department.
"Our measure does nothing to prohibit a citizen review board. That is certainly a possibility on down the line," said Moy.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association has taken a neutral position on Proposition A. The union had previously opposed the measure.
Be sure to check out our Decision 2012 page for all the information you need before heading to the polls.