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Mayor Jones signs executive order to close police complaint loophole, get complaint data from PD, department of corrections

The order said the police department continued to use its old complaint form after the new one was created in 2016
Credit: Tishaura Jones' office

ST. LOUIS — In her first executive order as mayor, Tishaura Jones called for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Corrections to provide years' worth of complaints filed against the departments.

The executive order, which was signed Wednesday, clarifies an ordinance put in place by Mayor Francis Slay in 2016 regarding citizen complaints. The order said the police department continued to use its old complaint form after the new one was made.

The 2016 ordinance created the Joint Civilian Complaint Form, which would be provided by the Civilian Oversight Board or police department to people asking to file a complaint against the police department. Those complaints would be shared between the board and the police department.

Jones said the police department continued to provide citizens with the department's old complaint form. She also said the department ignored the oversight board's repeated requests for complaint data.

Under the new executive order, the police department and the Civilian Oversight Board are ordered to use the joint complaint form established in 2016, and both the board and police department will provide each other with all complaints filed. 

The executive order also will require the police department to turn over all complaint data dating back to Jan. 1, 2016, to the Civilian Oversight Board. 

“These systems were built for abuse, not accountability," Jones said in a news release. "If we want to rebuild trust between our communities and the police department, we cannot allow the police to investigate themselves. This Executive Order creates a clear and direct line of authority between Internal Affairs and the Civilian Oversight Board.”

The executive order also includes updates to the complaint system for the city's Department of Corrections. Under the order, all complaints to the Department of Corrections will be provided to the city's Director of Public Safety. The order also requires the department to provide the public safety director any complaints dating back to 2017 and any COVID-19 testing data.

"Last weekend, after personally witnessing unsanitary and inhumane conditions inside both facilities, Mayor Jones spoke with detainees who expressed concerns about the carelessness by which Corrections staff handled their complaints," a news release from the mayor's office said.

The police department and department of corrections will have until May 10 to send the complaint data.

In a statement, the police department said it will comply with the executive order.