In Jefferson City, progress is generally measured by precedent. A bill that advances through the legislative process further than it has in previous sessions is considered to be a success. By that modest measure, the cause of returning control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to the citizens who rely on it â and pay for it â is already successful. Today, a house of the Missouri General Assembly gave a local control bill its preliminary approval. That the bill has gotten this far is attributable to the hard work of its sponsor and other members of the regionâs delegation and our allies, and to the support of the House leadership. City voters will remember our friends.
For the cityâs residents and businesses, todayâs step is a positive, but still preliminary, one. This is not yet a victory. A similar bill in the Senate is awaiting further action. And Gov. Jay Nixon, who currently controls the police department's governing commission, has not yet found a compelling reason to endorse the effort.
I strongly believe that yesterdayâs unwillingness by the Board of Police Commissioners to even consider alternatives to a St. Louis police department with far fewer officers widened a crack in the historic wall of opposition to local control. But, we still have a ways to go.
Tomorrow at 10 am, a very diverse group of supporters of local control will be meeting at a local church to plan our further strategy. For the first time in recent memory we will have a legislative victory to celebrate and to build upon.
This story is developing.