If St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and the Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature get their way on two bills before the Legislature, the following scenario would become commonplace in a system nominally called criminal “justice” in the City of St. Louis – a city that is, at least officially, a self-governed entity.
A white St. Louis police officer, new to the streets of St. Louis who has never lived there and never will live there, apprehends a suspect. If you look at St. Louis police data, there is a high probability the suspect will be a black male who lives in the city. This white police officer who will never live in the city does not take his probable cause statement to the black woman elected by city voters to prosecute criminal cases in the city, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner. Because the white Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature – none of those white Republicans being residents of the city – passed a law making this possible, he takes his case to Schmitt, a white Republican who has never lived in the city and works in Jefferson City, 130 miles and six counties away.
If Schmitt takes the case (that, presumably, the prosecutor elected by city voters would have dismissed), then there would be a brief detour through something almost approaching local control. House Bill 1900, which would give Schmitt the authority to prosecute this city case, would at least require Schmitt to prosecute the case in the county where the alleged crime was committed, the City of St. Louis (rather than Cole County, where Schmitt works, or St. Louis County, where he lives). This hypothetical black male city resident defendant would be tried before a jury of his peers, per the U.S. Constitution, and a judge – who was, by the way, not elected by city voters either but rather appointed by the governor, according to the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan (though, if the judge had been around beyond one term, then he or she would have been retained by city voters).
After that brief detour through something almost resembling criminal justice in an electoral democracy, our defendant, if convicted, would be transferred out of the city to an out-state prison. Arrested and prosecuted by people who have never lived in his city, he will now be counted as a resident of another city and county while he is behind bars. He will be counted there in the U.S. Census, enriching this out-state city and county at the expense of his home City of St. Louis.
State Rep. Nick Schroer, who filed HB 1900, is a white Republican from O’Fallon in St. Charles County. Another white Republican from St. Charles County, state Rep. Ron Hicks, filed House Bill 1604, which would make it possible for people who don’t live in the City of St. Louis to get jobs in the police department (or any other city department) without first living in the city for seven years. This out-state control of criminal justice in the City of St. Louis is being brought to you by white men from St. Charles County. It is being loudly promoted by Jeff Roorda, the notorious business agent for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, a white man from Jefferson County.
Where is Mayor Krewson in all of these moves made by people who don’t live in the city to erode city control over city services? Just as in the Better Together proposal, where she had agreed to let Steve Stenger preside over a city where he had never lived or been elected, she is in full support. Although officially a progressive Democrat, the mayor has increasingly responded to racially resentful whites who have driven her closer to Republicans in St. Charles than an increasingly progressive St. Louis. It makes us wonder why Krewson wanted to be the mayor of a city that she does not want to lead – or see led by anyone else who lives in the city or was elected in the city.
Although we believe that Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner is accurate in her civil suit against Mayor Krewson and others where she accuses Krewson of participating in an effort, led by her police department, to undermine the authority of the circuit attorney, and we believe that for this reason the mayor would support the state Legislature empowering the Missouri attorney general to take cases from her police department, the mayor’s spokesman claims that she has not read House Bill 1900 or taken an official position on it.