St. Louis, MO – Newly-elected St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones doubled the number of police officers on her personal security team at the same time she proposed cutting 98 cops from the police force.
Two police officers have traditionally been assigned to provide security for the mayor, KMOV reported.
The Kansas City mayor and the St. Louis County executive also have a two-person security detail.
But a police union spokesman revealed that when Jones took office on April 20, she doubled the number of officers assigned to her to four, KMOV reported.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department would not confirm how many officers are assigned to the mayor’s detail.
The mayor’s office also wanted to keep the details of Jones’ security under wraps, KMOV reported.
“We cannot provide much information for security reasons, however the staffing for the mayor’s security is based upon recommendations provided to our office before inauguration,” a spokesman for the mayor’s office said.
But at the same time that Jones is beefing up her personal security, she doesn’t seem as worried about the security of her voters.
The mayor said in the last week of April that she would support a plan to cut $4 million from the St. Louis police budget, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Under the proposal, those dollars would be reallocated to affordable housing, homeless services, a victims’ support program, and funding civil rights litigators.
The plan would eliminate 98 officers’ positions that are currently open and waiting to be filled, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The cuts to the police budget included more than $3 million in salary and benefits allocated for six lieutenants, 25 sergeants, and 67 patrol officers.
The mayor said those positions have been vacant for at least 12 years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
It turned out that officials have been using that money to cover the ever-increasing costs of overtime.
Documents presented to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment showed St. Louis police have blown their overtime budget by an average of $4.3 million every year for the last nine years, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Jones said the proposal won’t eliminate any active-duty officers and said they had kept about 50 vacant positions in order to accommodate the current 40-member police academy class.
But the police department is already short approximately 160 officers from the budgeted police force of 1,349 sworn personnel, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
St. Louis City Budget Director Paul Payne said the police department “will need to reduce actual overtime because they will not have that leeway to spend going forward.”
Payne said the police department’s budget has been greatly affected by the increased need for officers to deal with civil unrest in the city, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden said the mayor’s budget-cutting plan won’t affect his department’s effectiveness.
“Somebody might say, ‘How does that affect your current operations?’” Chief Hayden said. “It actually wouldn’t affect current operations at all because they’re people that I don’t have.”
The police chief said he has worked to fill those positions and even lobbied the Missouri legislature to repeal the residency requirement for officers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“We desperately need more officers and we need them now,” he told lawmakers.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill in the fall that suspended the residency requirement for police and firefighters through 2023 but that didn’t help, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The police department’s officer shortage has grown from 140 to 160 since then.
Chief Hayden said the pandemic contributed to the shortage since only two of the usual three academy classes had taken place in the past year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.