MCU Civilian Oversight Board Team met with St. Louis Mayor

St. Louis, MO—– Members of Metropolitan Congregations United Civilian Oversight Board Team met with St. Louis mayor, Francis Slay. They brought to him their concerns about the structure, power and support for the newly created board. Meant to provide much needed resident oversight of policing, the board currently possesses only monitoring power, has only seven members representing 28 city wards and questions have been raised about whether the board will have the funding it needs in order to be effective.
Ms. Marday Lee and Ms. Le’AsiaSanders attended the meeting representing Students 4 Change, the MCU student organizing project. They shared with the mayor their work in ‘Suspending Suspension’, bringing an end to out of school suspension in area schools. Currently S4C has successfully worked with two school districts, including St. Louis Public Schools, to reconsider their disciplinary policies and to formulate new rules.
The Mayor’s Chief of Staff Mary Ellen Ponder was also in the meeting and together with Mayor Slay affirmed the importance of the Civilian Oversight Board in its creation and its function. The mayor agreed that in his selection of nominees for the seven board positions he would create as much diversity as possible in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and experience. He emphasized that he would do all he could to ensure the proposed budget for the support of the board was approved by the Board of Aldermen. Current proposed funding would provide for two investigators and one administrative assistant.
The mayor was more reticent about pushing for more power for the board. He took the stand that he wanted to see how it would work as it is currently organized before pushing for subpoena power and the ability to interview police officers, which would make the board less relianton the investigations of the Internal Affairs Department. The mayor and the team agreed to meet in six months, allowing for the board to begin its work and examine in a meaningful way the changes to be made.
Attending MCU members included Rev. Erin Counihan, Rev. Carleton Stock, Ms. Tiffany Robertson, Mr. Jeff Lindgren, Rev. Suzanne Webb, Ms. Elisabeth Risch, Ms. Marday Lee, Ms. Le’Asia Sanders, Mr. Jacob Blanton and Rev. Susan Sneed.