MCU Leaders Urge Slay to Give Civilian Board Full Power

Posted by: Gordon on 8/6/2015

MCU Leaders with Mayor Slay

Leaders from MCU and its student-organizing group Students4Change pushed St. Louis Mayor Slay to give full powers to the new Civilian Oversight Board of Police a week prior to his announcing his candidates to lead the new board. 

Members of Metropolitan Congregations United’s Civilian Oversight Board Team met Mayor Francis Slay in St. Louis last week.

They brought concerns about the structure, power and support of the newly created Civilian Oversight Board for Police oversight board to the meeting and shared their work on ending punitive out-of-school suspensions for young people in St. Louis and surrounding area school districts.

Marday Lee and Le’Asia Sanders represented Students 4 Change, MCU’s student organizing project. They shared their work in ‘Suspending Suspension’ a campaign to end to out-of-school suspension as a punishment. They have gotten St. Louis Public Schools to formulate new rules already as part of this push.

The city’s new Oversight Board – Slay announced candidates to sit on the board in early August -- is meant to provide much-needed oversight of policing but currently possesses only monitoring power. It will have only 7 members to represent 28 city wards. Questions have been raised about whether the board will have the funding it needs to be effective. The proposal is to pay for two investigators and one administrative assistant.

Slay and his chief of staff, Mary Ellen Ponder, affirmed the importance of the Civilian Oversight Board and pledged 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 Board of Aldermen approves the Board’s proposed budget.

Slay was more reticent about pushing for more power for the board. He said he wanted to see how it would work as currently organized before pushing for subpoena power and the ability to interview police officers, for example -- which would make the board less reliant on 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.

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