Consolidate St. Louis municipals, says new study

A new study of St. Louis municipals calls for a consolidation of 18 cities in the North County region. The study, commissioned by a local nonprofit Better Together, proposes that these select cities should centralize their police enforcement, training, communications, data collection, and oversight. At the same time, the report acknowledges that political opposition to consolidation is likely to harm progress and cooperation already underway among many of the cities. The report comes at time when the state legislature is debating a cap of 15 percent on the amount of a municipals’ revenue that can be generated from traffic ticket violations.

Consolidating police services in north St. Louis County will save money but politically would be difficult, a new research report says.

A Washington-based consulting group, Police Executive Research Forum, issued its findings Monday, according to a news report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The report recommends centralized training, communications, data collection, and oversight for the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Specifically, the report calls for 18 municipal police departments in north St. Louis County to consolidate.

The report, called “Overcoming the Challenges and Creating a Regional Approach to Policing in St. Louis City and County,” points out that there is a duplication of services and costs that can be better managed and saved by working towards consolidation.

The report added that attempts towards changing current police structures is likely to be met with strong community opposition, possibly undermining cooperation that already exists between governments.

The report proposed three major consolidations: The University City Police Department should take over services for Pagedale, Pine Lawn, Uplands Park, Velda City, Beverly Hills, Hillsdale, Northwoods, Velda Village Hills and Wellston.

St. Louis County Police would serve the municipals of Berkeley, Calverton Park, Ferguson and Kinloch, while Bellefontaine Neighbors, Country Club Hills, Flordell Hills, Moline Acres and Riverview could be folded into the county police department’s Jennings precinct.

The report was commissioned by Better Together, a St. Louis-based nonprofit studying possible benefits of regional cooperation.

The report’s release comes at a time when the state legislature began debating a bill in Jefferson City that would cap the percentage of revenue that municipals could generate from ticket revenues.

The proposed bill states that fines from minor traffic violations could produce no more than 15 percent of a city’s operating revenue in St. Louis County. The rest of the state, however, would have a 20 percent revenue cap on ticket revenue.. The new caps would start Jan. 1, 2016.

The bill, currently in the Senate, needs another committee’s approval before moving to the House floor. Under the House version, people who miss court dates would no longer face additional charges. Failure to appear fines can run from $75.00 or more in some municipals.

Those with minor traffic charges would not have to pay more than $200.00 in combined fine and court costs.

Minor traffic violations include those not involving commercial motor vehicles, accidents or injuries, and which result in four points or less assessed against a person’s driver’s license. Exceptions to minor traffic violations would include exceeding the speed limit by more than 19 miles per hour or violating traffic laws in a construction or school zones.

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