SLCPA president responds to Bell’s new policies

CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Police Association (SLCPA) president Joe Patterson shared a statement on Monday in response to new policies ordered by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and his office.

Bell defeated incumbent Bob McCulloch in the 2018 primary election. He made history being the first African American County Prosecutor in 207 years of history of St. Louis County.

“The police officers of the St. Louis County Police Association are disappointed and discouraged by the new internal policies of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, but remain hopeful that Mr. Bell himself will take immediate action to stop some of these changes and find a better and safer path to implement his platform,” Patterson said.

Wesley Bell speaks at inauguration event after being sworn-in as new St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney on January 1, 2019. (DANIELLE MAE FRANKLIN/CLAYTON TIMES)
According to Patterson, the livelihoods of single working parents are in jeopardy with the decriminalization of the failure to pay child support. He also noted that the abolishment of warrants on all D and E Class Felony offenses places St. Louis County residents at risk for repeat victimization.

Patterson said that with these new policies, law enforcement agencies throughout the county have to enforce these laws with “one hand tied behind their backs.” These new policies come at a time when manpower shortages are not unusual and the murder rate of the county is the highest it has ever been.

Under Bell’s new policy, warrants will not be issued and arrests will not be made for crimes including Rape 2nd Degree; Child Molestation 4th Degree; Sexual Contact with a Student; Possession of Child Pornography; Abuse/Neglect of a Child; Burglary 2nd Degree and Domestic Assualt 2nd Degree.

Because of these new laws, SLCPA is hopeful that Bell reconsiders the changes which immediately impact the county’s “most vulnerable people, specifically women and children.”

“We understand Mr. Bell has a vision and that change is expected,” Patterson said. “But many of these new policies are a step backward for every citizen in St. Louis County and we know they are our concern for public safety.”

Patterson said SLCPA looks forward to working with Bell and his staff in the future to address the issues which greatly impact the St. Louis County community.