FLORDELL HILLS, Mo. - A small city in north St. Louis County is about to have its own police department. City leaders in Flordell Hills have worked toward building a new police force for quite some time now.
It just so happens the official launch of the department is coming as the community is talking about one of its neighbors, the City of Ferguson. But the new chief here says he's eager to build a solid relationship between the officers of Flordell Hills and its residents.
Flordell Hills is a city of less than 1,000 people, so there are a lot of familiar faces. Officer Jeremy Quate is intent on becoming one of them.
"If I see a child out throwing a football, (I) get out, throw the football with them," said Quate.
Because he says building relationships is why he came to Flordell Hills.
"(It's) where I felt like change needed to happen, I mean it really does. People need to feel safer where they live," said Quate.
That's the attitude the Chief Dennis Oglesby says he wants all his officers to have.
"I want the residents here to feel safe, number one, and that they can approach any one of my officers," Oglesby said.
There will be six full-time and two part-time officers to take over for the Country Club Hills Department, which has been serving the community. The chief says he's working to build a quality, diverse force, but finding minority candidates has been a challenge.
"They're going to the higher paid departments, not the smaller departments," said Oglesby.
He's started recruiting from within the community, starting with a young man he met just the other day.
"He was told that when you get done with the police academy, you'll have a job here," said Oglesby.
The hope is that eventually diversity won't be a challenge. And regardless of color, the community and its police force will stand united.
"Diversity just shows that we're neutral. We're not on one side of the other. Right is right and wrong is wrong," said Quate.
Some economic analysts and criminologists are against small municipalities within St. Louis County having their own governments and police forces. They say it is not practical for taxpayers. But Chief Oglesby says running the department will costs about as much as contracting the work out to Country Club Hills.
The Flordell Hills Police Department takes over jurisdiction October 1.