By Courtney Gousman
Dellwood, MO (KSDK) - The mayor of Dellwood is moving forward with the plan to replace the city's police force with St. Louis County police officers, and it's being done without a contract.
St. Louis County police began patrolling the city at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will continue to help on an emergency basis until to 3 p.m. Dellwood police will not be on the street during that time, but will then pick up the shift after 3 p.m..
Letter For the first time since the police issue has come up in Dellwood, Mayor Loretta Johnson is speaking out about the situation, and she says this latest move comes as Dellwood officers are leaving the department.
"We were absolutely stunned. I was not prepared for that," said Johnson.
That was Johnson's reaction after learning of last week's ruling by a county judge that would allow four Dellwood council members to continue boycotting meetings.
In fact, Monday night's meeting was cancelled after learning those same council members didn't plan to show.
While the standoff continues, Johnson says the city is quickly losing officers.
"I know we have about three officers on administrative leave. We have three or four more that have already accepted positions with St. Louis County, and more are expected to respond this week," said Johnson.
Johnson says right now, there are about eight officers left, out of the city's 16 positions; not enough to provide 24 hour policing.
Since Dellwood's council can't vote on whether to enter into a contract with county police, Johnson is now asking St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch to step-in on an emergency basis.
"We're asking for St. Louis County to step in and provide additional officers to our city. The safety and welfare of our city is first and foremost," said Johnson.
Chief Fitch tells NewsChannel 5 he's received Dellwood's request, and the county attorney is looking over it. Fitch says it appears that county police will be helping to cover Dellwood's deficit, but a final decision will be made Tuesday.
Fitch says protecting all areas of the county is a part of his department's responsibility, and a contract is not needed, nor is compensation. Fitch says if county police step-in, only state laws will be enforced.
"We are needing help, and we need it right away," said Johnson.
The City of Ferguson has also offered policing services to Dellwood, for a contract about $600,000 less than the county's offer.
City leaders say they're expecting the four aldermen to continue boycotting meetings until after April elections.
Dellwood's city attorney plans to appeal the court's decision.