JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – State Rep. Joshua Peters hopes to work with local and state officials to provide the City of St. Louis with additional properly trained law enforcement professionals to help police the streets and keep the peace. Peters recently filed legislation to allow the 173 sworn deputies in the St. Louis City Sheriff’s Department to enforce the criminal laws of the state. The bill also requires the deputies to obtain the same training, and to meet the same standards, as other peace officers.
“This is an idea that makes sense and I’m glad to see it is gaining traction with local officials like Alderman Vaccaro. I know some of my colleagues in the Capitol who have worked in law enforcement also feel this is a viable solution,” said Peters, D-St. Louis.
He added, “The fact of the matter is that the St. Louis City Police Chief wants an additional 160 police officers, and we have 173 deputy sheriffs who spend their time now transporting prisoners and providing courthouse security. The people of St. Louis are already footing the bill for these individuals who can and should be asked to do more to help keep the peace in our city.”
Peters filed legislation during the 2015 session to change statute to allow the sheriff of the City of St. Louis to enforce the general criminal laws of the state of Missouri. Peters said his goal was to allow the department to operate in the same fashion as the many other sheriff’s departments around the state. The idea was met with resistance from St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson, who said that sheriffs aren’t trained to do the job of a police officer. Peters said this year’s version of the bill, HB 2049, would require members of the sheriff’s department to obtain the same training as other peace officers.
“We can save the taxpayers an immense amount of money by investing in training for our existing city employees as opposed to adding another 160 new positions to the city payroll,” said Peters. “Anywhere else you go in the state, a sheriff’s deputy is someone who keeps the peace and enforces the law. It should be no different here in St. Louis. We have the personnel in place. Let’s provide them with the training they need to get out on the streets and help take some of the load off of our existing police force.”