Ethical Society of Police releases a comprehensive report about the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department outlining concerns of systemic racism and recommendations
ST. LOUIS, MO (STL.News) The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP) has released a comprehensive report on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) that outlines systemic racism, concerns with hiring, unfair discipline, corruption and disturbing incidents. The report presents 25 recommendations for addressing these long-standing issues.
“The murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 caused America to grapple with police reform and what that looks like in various communities. In St. Louis City and County, structural and blatant acts of racism and corruption have had unparalleled harm on civilian and uniformed minorities,” states the Ethical Society of Police. “The Ethical Society of Police is autonomous and therefore left to our own devices to remedy inequities along racial lines for ESOP members and the community even when these issues are labor matters, matters of extreme injustice, criminal or police corruption.”
The Ethical Society of Police was founded in 1972 by African American police officers to fight racism in SLMPD and the community. The authors and contributors of the ESOP report are current officers, former law enforcement officers and civilians with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD). The contributors to this report cumulatively have hundreds of years of experience working within SLMPD as commanders, supervisors, detectives, civilian employees, and patrol officers. ESOP membership is comprised of approximately 325 current police officers, civilians, retired law enforcement, Deputy Marshals, Sheriffs, and Park Rangers from St. Louis City, Ferguson and the St. Louis County Police Departments. Currently, ESOP membership is approximately 97% African American, but membership is open to all races, religions and sexual orientations.
Violation of Civil Service Rules Following Local Control
A major contributing factor to SLMPD’s long-standing issues with racism and inequities stems from how SLMPD has deviated from Civil Service Rules under the Charter of the City of St. Louis. In 2013, Revised Statute of Missouri (RSMO) 84.344 returned “local control” of SLMPD to the City of St. Louis. However, SLMPD has not fully incorporated into the Civil Service system. This illegal structure has demonstrated SLMPD’s inability to supervise itself, cost the taxpayers by the expensive litigation attributed to its no transfer and allowed internal disparities to continue.
“By allowing SLMPD to function as a half city department and half independent organization, the City has created a system that allows individual decisions to rule instead of consistent rules similar to other city employees. This has also hindered community support, harmed the retention of African American officers, impeded the promotion of African American officers, has allowed unfair discipline, emboldened employee corruption, lowered morale among employees, and resulted in numerous civil lawsuits,” states the report.
Disturbing incidents, including an in-custody death, is highlighted as a powerful example of why SLMPD cannot go back to the way things were before RSMO 844.344. In the 2012 case, one officer used a banned “choke-hold,” and another tased the victim six times. The victim died. The witness statements include one witness advising one of the officers called the victim “nigger.”
“I was the scene supervisor. The law allowed the officers to get away with actions that would be murder for anyone else. Even when our actions are egregious and violate policy we escape criminal charges when we state we feared for our safety. The actions of the officers violated policy and were excessive. This case is why I believe all in-custody deaths should be reviewed by an independent grand jury. I also believe this case demonstrates the need for an independent autopsy to be conducted in use of force, in-custody deaths,” said Sgt Heather Taylor, ESOP President.
- All SLMPD personnel matters should fall under Civil Service Rules.
- A Trauma Informed Form should be created to let families know what their rights are when their loved one is killed by law enforcement. The form should include a summary of the incident, the medical examiner’s findings and police report.
- The Director of Personnel must remove Article 7 – Internal Transfers Section CBA “seniority” language, and other language in the CBA that hinder diversity.
- The Department of Personnel must establish a standardized matrix for hiring and discipline, a clear path for promotion, a clear path for jobs in coveted specialized assignments and a detailed explanation of rejected applicants.
- Establish a balance between qualified immunity and unjust actions by officers in incidents that cause death.
- Review of all current and prior in-custody deaths and officer-involved shootings by a Grand Jury.
- All uniform shirts, jackets, and similar items should have officers’ first and last name sewn into the area where the name tag is found.
- Establish whistleblower protections for officers and civilian employees that report crimes and officer misconduct.
- The Department of Personnel must establish a diverse pool of panelists reviewing applications for hire as police officers and SLMPD civilians.
- Body-worn cameras should be worn by all undercover, patrol officers and supervisors.
- The first offense of intentionally turning off a body-worn camera is automatic termination when someone dies or is injured, and a 10-day suspension in incidents where life is not lost. The discipline for future incidents should be termination.
- All SLMPD officer discipline should be public record.
- Create Employee Resource Groups to provide employees with assistance.
- Create a Diversity Council to ensure diversity and inclusion are an integral part of SLMPD.
- All complaints to Internal Affairs should list the officer’s race, as well as other demographics. No complaint should state, “unknown officer.”
- The Department of Personnel must provide free investigative and promotional training for all officers, instead of paid training given by the SLPOA and commanders.
- Rotate district officers, district detectives and specialized assignment detectives so that all officers gain experience as investigators.
- The Department of Personnel must provide all employees with yearly cultural competency training and conduct regular surveys for biases within SLMPD.
- The Director Frank, Chief, Mayor, HR and Director Edwards must establish a critical incident review and assessment after every critical incident – examples include civil unrest, 4th Amendment violations by officers, critical analysis when officers are shot, or killed in the line of duty, the Plainview Project, off-duty African American officer being shot by a Caucasian officer; undercover African American detective being beaten by numerous Caucasian officers.
- Record all promotional processes.
- The Department of Personnel should provide cultural competency training and implicit bias training to all candidates prior to hiring to eliminate some unsuitable candidates.
- The Department of Personnel must report all officers fired/resigned under charges to the Peace Officers Standards of Training (POST) for decertification.
- The Department of Personnel must remove medical insurance for any employee that resigns under internal allegations or charged with a crime.
- SLMPD must assign all nonpolice calls to the appropriate division in the City of St. Louis.
- The Department of Personnel must mandate the hiring of social workers to assist divisions with Juvenile Disturbances, Domestic Violence calls, Unhoused/Homeless Services and Mental Health calls.
The Ethical Society of Police (E.S.O.P.) is a 501 (c)(4) association of police officers, park rangers, and civilians that advocates for racial and gender equity in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) and St. Louis County Police Department. The E.S.O.P. was founded in 1972 to address racial biases within law enforcement. The E.S.O.P. also works to improve community/police relations, develop policies and programs to reduce crime, elevate the status of minority civilians and police officers, encourage greater minority employment by law enforcement agencies, and increase professionalism in law enforcement. Membership is open to all races and includes approximately 325 law enforcement professionals employed by the City and County of St. Louis, including Ferguson. For details, call (314) 690-3565, email [email protected] or visit www.esopstl.org.
News provided by ESOP