Since the Civil War, the St. Louis and Kansas City police departments have been controlled by the state of Missouri. However, last November, in a nonbinding resolution, 69 percent of St. Louis voters asked the state to leave and return the department to local control. I agree and here's why.
In 1999, former state auditor and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill cited the Board of Police Commissioners for its lack of oversight, fiscal mismanagement and violation of state law.
Over a decade later not much has changed. In 2009, Missouri Auditor Susan Montee also found a host of financial improprieties, including misuse of interest funds, the purchase of a gold badge costing taxpayers nearly $10,000 and wrongful pay of $109,000 in severance.
Moreover, in data reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Crime in the United States 2009," St. Louis and Kansas City ranked one and 21, respectively. This alone should be a wake-up call for all Missourians.
It is apparent that the state of Missouri's control over the St. Louis Police Department does more to perpetuate crime than prevent it.
While local control may not solve every problem, it is the first step in addressing mismanagement, lackadaisical oversight and reducing our rankings on the national level.
It is for these reasons that I support House Bill 71 and Senate Bill 23.
ROGER A. GRAHAM, Cape Girardeau