FERGUSON (June 29, 2020) - St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page and Urban League President & CEO Michael P. McMillan today announced the start of a comprehensive review of public safety in the St. Louis County Police Department.
The review, which will be led by two nationally recognized former police chiefs, will examine how best to implement effective community policing strategies in St. Louis County, and review use of force training and practice. It will review policing, help reduce violent crime, and protect civil rights. 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 review will be entirely privately funded by Civic Progress companies and the Regional Business Council. No tax dollars will be spent on the review. “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.
Page said he decided to support the study after consulting with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, Judge Ray Price, chairman 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.” Page said that the former police chiefs conducting the review would be Chief Charles Ramsey and Chief Daniel Oates.
Chief Ramsey served as the co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Ramsey has led the police departments of Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, dramatically reducing homicides in all three cities while changing departments to better protect civil rights, more community policing, and improved sensitivity training.
Chief Daniel Oates has spent two decades as a leader in the New York Police Department. He also led the police departments of Ann Arbor, Mich., Aurora, Colo., and Miami Beach, Fla., where he oversaw significant reforms to strengthen police-community relations, institute strong accountability measures to address misconduct, and make communities safer by reducing violent crime. He is considered one of the foremost experts on community policing in the country. County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said he was encouraged by the scope of the review.
“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."