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Is Ethical Society of Police doing a flip flop? | Political Eye

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Get the who, what when, where and why in the world of elected officials and community leaders. For the latest on the local and national scene, be sure to visit Political Eye each week.

The heavy hand of police unions has become obvious in the last few weeks, as pro-law enforcement groups fight against the backlash of two exposés by ProPublica, a national investigative publication that explored the sordid world of private policing in St. Louis. A credit bureau reporting website looked at skewed crime data in St. Louis to make the absurd claim that our city is the “least safe” in the county. Both the white and the Black police unions have set aside their decades of differences to join forces in the fight against police accountability. Even Schnucks has chimed in to bemoan increasing instances of petty crimes around their South Grand location – blaming the surrounding neighborhood without any mention of the $1 mini bottles placed near the self-check-outs. 

Earlier this month, 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar released a very expensive campaign television ad, targeting the City’s vexing perennial issue: public safety. In his ad, Coatar calls for more police officers and a better 911 system. Coatar, in office since spring 2015, has been largely ineffective in leveraging his relationships with the police department and unions to resolve persistent labor issues in the police department.

Here’s the problem: Jack can’t back up his own words. After making promises to voters, he won’t be able to keep the promises he is making to his donors and other supporters.

To “fix” 911, that system would need to be consolidated under one, big Public Safety Department umbrella. Currently, all calls for emergency assistance are routed through the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which then makes the sole determinator of which services to dispatch for help. This is a remnant of a time, not so long ago, when St. Louis City did not have control over its own police department. In the lead up to the Civil War in 1861, Missouri’s segregationalist governor didn’t want the union sympathizers to be able to control the police department. Since the state-appointed police commission called the shots at SLMPD from the Civil War until 2013, our 911 system has been broken since it began. We’ve regained local control of our police department, but that doesn’t mean the police have been ready to collaborate with other emergency services.

The “fix” to 911 would require consolidation of the workforce. The arrangement is opposed by the alderman’s benefactors at the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) and the yet-to-endorse IAFF Local 73. Of course, that opposition is not based on what best serves the community.

In short, Coatar cannot support an improved, consolidated 911 system without supporting a consolidated workforce. And he cannot support a consolidated workforce because the white police and white firefighters unions oppose that move. Both of these arrangments cannot co-exist – so the young alderman has to make a tough choice between voters’ concerns and his donors’ interests.

Is ESOP doing a flip flop?

Across the county line, St. Louis County Executive Republican candidate Mark Mantovani – who our readers may recall as a two-time Democratic candidate for County Executive – has received the endorsement from the Ethical Society of Police. In a first for the Black police union, ESOP’s Recording Secretary St. Louis County Police Lt. Ray Rice gave a non-specific statement that Page lacked a “holistic crime mitigation plan” – something that Mantovani does not have but Page in fact does – latching onto debunked talking points previously touted by ousted SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda. Wonder who arranged that possible policy shift?

Setting aside the already-bizarre turn of events for the Republican candidate for St. Louis County’s chief executive post, ESOP’s endorsement of Mantovani calls for more transparency – because it seems to ignore ESOP’s own legal fight against pro-transparency measures passed by the Board of Aldermen in St. Louis. 

In this situation, the left hand apparently doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Pulling up anchor at Lighthouse Landing?

If you haven’t heard of the “Lighthouse Landing” project on the far north side of the city, you should pay close attention to our region’s latest shiny “thing.” The project was announced last month, along with two board bills sponsored by Alderwoman Lisa Middlebrook (Ward 1), to establish a development district and a community improvement district to help financially support the development. The Board of Aldermen’s transportation and commerce committee voted Tuesday to delay further consideration to recommend 15 years of tax abatements and sales tax exemptions for the project, after developers were unable to explain the lack of environmental and safety studies; local, state, and federal collaboration; or plans for “living wage” jobs that provide an average salary of only $27,000.

During the usually unexciting Transportation and Commerce Committee meeting, Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia (D-Ward 6) asked the developers to identify the various government agencies with whom they claimed to have spoken and obtained permission to proceed with developing “Lighthouse Landing.” Moreover, when pressed for further details, the developers admitted that they had not spoken with any government partners in several years or misrepresented their points of contact.

“It seems very irresponsible to me, for you all as developers, to not at least have had some preliminary conversations, I mean, at a minimum with Corps of Engineers,” Ingrassia admonished. “There’s a reason why the tows and barges go through a canal that we spent multi-millions of dollars building in the 1940s – it’s because the Chain of Rocks bedrock shelf is the largest hazard on the entire Mississippi River, so we diverted all of that commercial traffic to the Illinois side.”

Ingrassia pointed to rescue and recovery operations having to launch from Downtown St. Louis, versus further north up the river, because of the natural dangers that pose real threats to boat traffic around the planned location for the marina.

The proposed site for “Lighthouse Landingwas purchased in 1988 by a former SLMPD officer, Tony Daniele, who served eight years in federal prison for police pension fraud and extortion. His business partner, Mark Repking of Alton, Ill., did his own federal sentence for bank embezzlement. Daniele and Repking apparently still own the land where the Nashville-based developer M2 Development Partners (M2DP) want to construct a 67-acre “entertainment destination.”

The property is located near the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, at probably the northernmost point on Riverview Drive. It has been the subject of a number of development schemes throughout many decades. The former North Shore Golf Course was washed away in the 1993 flood, and casinos and riverboats have teased development at the site for years. The city ended up paying Daniele and Repking to raise the flood plain by dumping “clean fill” from various city departments, through a series of shady deals that netted nearly $500,000 from 2009 through 2016. In 2017, former alderwoman Dionne Flowers (D-Ward 2) sponsored two bills similar to the ones filed a few weeks ago by Middlebrook, seeking to develop the property raised out of the flood plain filled up with trash.

As it turns out, Middlebrook’s bills are neither the second nor third attempt at development on North Riverview Drive. The Post-Dispatch’s Tony Messenger has been following the “Lighthouse Landing” project for years, through its various names such as “Pier St. Louis,” “Lighthouse Development,” and “Belle of the Night.” For some reason or another, however, each proposal has fallen through.

Despite the identified environmental and safety challenges to constructing “Lighthouse Landing” on North Riverside Drive, the out-of-state developers still clutched to the idea of a marina and dismissed the idea that the Chain of Rocks area was a hazard to boaters. 

Alderwoman Annie Rice (D-Ward 8) reminded the developers that Missouri law permits 14-year-old children to pilot boats and that declining river levels have further tightened barge traffic along the Mississippi.

“I don’t see how we’re even starting this conversation that we have a potentially environmentally devastating marina project, and potentially public safety as well, and that we’re going forward on not knowing if this piece of the puzzle can even exist,” Rice said.

This project has been stewing for years, so there are few excuses for this stark lack of information from the developers. While the EYE strongly urges development on the North Side, projects such as “Lighthouse Landing” should not be supported at the expense of the environment, safety, or commerce.




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North America

Retired Detroit police officer charged in ongoing corruption probe over towing

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DETROIT – A retired police officer has been charged in the ongoing corruption probe within Detroit City Hall and the Detroit Police Department.

Alonzo Jones, 55, faces bribery charges. He oversaw the police department’s vehicle auction from 2009 until he retired in May.

Prosecutors said Jones received $3,200 in bribes from 2019 to 2021.

The charges are part of “Operation Northern Hook,” an investigation into bribery and extortion within Detroit City Hall and the city’s towing operations.

Former City Councilman Andre Spivey, 47, plead guilty to bribery charges in September. He admitted to conspiring with a member of his staff to commit bribery by accepting more than $35,000 in bribe payments in connection with City Council’s oversight of towing in Detroit.

Two police officers have also been charged. Lt. John F. Kennedy, 56, of Rochester Hills, was serving as the supervisor in command of the department’s integrity unit when officials said he conspired with Officer Daniel S. Vickers, 54, of Livonia, to commit bribery. Kennedy held the position from 2017 to March 2018 at the Seventh Precinct.


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Honduras repeals ‘secrets law’ in fight against corruption

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TEGUCIGALPA, March 2 (Reuters) – Honduran lawmakers have repealed legislation that critics dubbed the “official secrets law” for classifying public documents on national security and defense, marking one of the first efforts under a new leftist administration to curb corruption.

President Xiomara Castro, who took office in January, had made campaign vows to repeal the law along with others that she said prevent government officials from being investigated and prosecuted for graft.

The so-called secrets law took effect in 2014 under former President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was arrested in February after a U.S. extradition request on drug trafficking and weapons charges. read more

Honduras’ Congress voted Tuesday evening to repeal the law, which proponents during Hernandez’s administration had said was needed to avoid jeopardizing police operations against drug cartels and gangs by keeping certain documents and contracts from public view.

“We have repealed the law of secrets, an instrument that encouraged corruption for eight years in Honduras,” said Luis Redondo, the president of Congress.

The move will become official once published in the country’s official legal gazette.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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‘If you don’t give Police money, he cannot take it from your pocket’ – Dep D-G of Ghana Police Service on corruption perception

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The Ghana Police Service has blamed the public, partly, for the perception that it is the most corrupt institution in the country.

The Service said all of its personnel have been trained professionally and are expected to discharge their duties without inducement.

Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Police Service in charge of Private Services Organisation, DCOP Kojo Antwi Tabi told JoyNews that some individuals when arrested for various offenses, bribe Police personnel.

This, he said makes some Ghanaians guilty of the accusations against the Police.

“The members of the public too must be blamed for their accusation that they are making. They are also equally guilty, because if you do not give the Police money, he cannot take it from your pocket. If you commit an offense and the Police wants to charge you for court, you have to allow yourself to go through the due process.

“At times, even when you go to court, the offense may not attract a serious fine. But when you tempt the Police with money, when you do not want to go to court, then you are giving an unscrupulous Police chance to demand any amount of money, because you are not willing to allow yourself to go to court,” he said

In recent surveys by the Ghana Statistical Service and CHRAJ and the Centre for Democratic Development, the Police has been ranked as the most corrupt public institution.

According to the latest Afrobarometer Report, the Presidency, judiciary and the legislature were thought of as very corrupt institutions after the Police which was number one.

The research found that the Police’s score of 65% placed it at the top of the chain while the Presidency followed in second position with 55%.

However, the Police said personnel who are found engaging in such acts are either sacked or punished.

“We have been talking to them, we have been training them and from time to time those who are offenders that is the Policemen who are found to have collected money or to have extorted money or done something unlawfully, we normally punish them or dismiss them,” DCOP Kojo Antwi Tabi noted.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.


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