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St. Louis County, Urban League announce independent review of police department

The review will look at policing, help reduce violent crime and protect civil rights, according to Page’s office
Credit: KSDK

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County along with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis announced an independent review of the police department that will be privately funded by Civic Progress companies and the Regional Business Council.

County Executive Dr. Sam Page and Urban League President and CEO Michael P. McMillan announced the start of a comprehensive review of public safety in the St. Louis County Police Department. 

“In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, as we have seen millions of people all across our country and in this community call for change, and we have been having conversations with leaders of our civic and business community about how they can help us confront this crisis as well. This review is an incredible opportunity to identify and enact meaningful steps to improve policing and protect civil rights,” McMillan said.

According to a press release from Page’s office, the review will be led by two nationally recognized former police chiefs and will look at how to best implement effective community policing strategies in the county. It’ll also review use of force training and practice.

Page said that the former police chiefs conducting the review would be Charles Ramsey and Daniel Oates.

The review will look at policing, help reduce violent crime and protect civil rights, according to Page’s office.

“It will explore the best ways to provide instruction, including cultural, racial, and community sensitivity training, de-escalation training, and implicit bias training. It will also explore the roles that police officers play in the public safety system – including an important review of where other professionals, such as nurses, advocates, and social workers, can provide a more tailored response in cases such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health crises,” the press release said.

Page said he decided to support the study after consulting with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, Judge Ray Price, chairperson of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, and St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton. 

Page said that Price and Barton have assigned St. Louis County Police Department Lt. Col. Troy Doyle to provide essential coordination with the review.

“It is important that we rise to the challenge of strengthening a public safety system that protects and serves all of us and keeps all of our residents safe from violence,” Page said. “At the same time, we have to confront another crisis in our country and in our region. Systemic racism is ingrained in St. Louis and in our institutions, including law enforcement. We have to have the humility to recognize where we fall short and the urgency to do something about it.”

“The St. Louis County Public Safety Review is an opportunity to take a proven, data and research driven approach and use it to address our public safety challenges,” Bell said. “We have to be able to talk about implicit bias and cultural sensitivity because that's the only way to address the culture changes needed in law enforcement and allow us to move St. Louis forward in a meaningful way.

This not the only recent review of the St. Louis County Police Department. In response to the police killing of George Floyd, the department's new chief announced the department would be undergoing a pair of reviews of the department's use of force policy.

RELATED: St. Louis County Police Department getting additional reviews of use of force policies

The department also underwent a review in the aftermath of the court battle with Lt. Keith Wildhaber. Wildhaber now leads the department’s first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Unit.

RELATED: St. Louis County executive says changes are coming to police department after lawsuit, councilwoman calls for chief to resign

The St. Louis County Police Department also underwent a federal review following the Ferguson protests, called a collaborative reform agreement. It took years to develop and years to implement. They have also undergone several similar reviews then.

Civic Progress, one of the groups helping fund the review, is an organization of top local business leaders that seeks to help improve the quality of the community and businesses in the area.

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