One St. Louis County councilmember on Tuesday introduced a resolution that seeks to create a community relations division that would attempt to enhance the relationship between communities and the county’s police department.
Councilmember Rochelle Walton Gray said the goal was to create more open talks and relationships between youth and law enforcement. The program would allow more of a police presence within county’s schools to increase positive social interactions between police and local youth.
The new division that would be created within the St. Louis County Police Department would consist of five members appointed jointly by the chief of police and the Board of Police Commissioners, subject to confirmation of the County Council.
The resolution passed 6-1, with Councilman Mark Harder voting against it, stating that police were already doing similar functions.
“I understand the spirit of this is good,” Harder said. “I just feel that it might send the wrong signal since we are already doing these functions within the Police Board and the police department itself. I appreciate the sentiment and the spirit of this but just to be clear I want to make sure we’re not being redundant with creating things that we already have.”
Currently, the county has similar options for police presence within the county’s schools such as a School Resource Officer program, and the Safe Schools Initiative.