Shouting, shoving erupts at City Hall

ST. LOUIS - A shouting and shoving match erupted at St. Louis City Hall. It all went down at the first public hearing for a police oversight board Wednesday night.

The Civilian Police Oversight Board would be created if a proposed bill is approved.

Jeff Roorda, St. Louis Police Officers Association business manager, sent a memo the officers encouraging them to show up to the meeting. He says the way the proposed bill is currently worded, officers are guilty until proven innocent. Roorda says the bill ignores an officer's right to due process.

"We'll warn them the bill in its current state violates state statues and it would be silly to end up in litigation over it," he said.

St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French is one of the sponsors of the bill. He believes it would help build trust between law enforcement and the community.

"Citizens want, especially what we saw in the wake of St. Louis in the past few months, a new level of accountability and assurances that in the rare instance that tier is misconduct by the police the police, the police are not left to just police themselves," he said.

More than 100 officers showed up to the meeting Wednesday to listen to the suggestions and testimony over the police oversight bill. A number of protesters from Ferguson testified before the board of aldermen. Police officers testified too.

While the third officer gave his testimony, the shouting got louder. Roorda shouted at the chairman of the public safety committee to get the meeting under control. Seconds later, people in the crowd started shouting at him and the shoving took place.

The meeting started off peaceful with people explaining why there were either for or against a police civilian review board. The group would hear complaints about police actions, be able to review evidence from internal affairs investigations and evaluate police policies.

The board of aldermen ended the meeting early after things got out of hand.

The mayor is set to appoint seven people to the police oversight board. The board of aldermen would have to approve them. There's no official date set for the board to vote on the bill.


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