6-19-18 — “The death of Leon V. Smith may have been simply an unfortunate tragedy, but a history of medical neglect reported from people held in the Justice Center and the City Workhouse makes apparent the need for an independent investigation.”
“CAPCR is calling for the establishment of a new St. Louis Department of Civilian Oversight. This Department would house a professional unit of investigators that could examine any deaths while in the custody of the police or the jails, as well as all officer-involved shootings.”
6-18-18 — Clark Roberts, a City Workhouse inmate, has been short of breath and denied 26 medications, one being insulin. Workhouse officer Lt. Watson, requested a Justice Center transport to at least get Roberts to cooler air. The transporter decided Roberts was suffering from anxiety and didn’t transport him.
FAMILY TOLD TO ACT IMMEDIATELY: Lt. Watson next placed a call to Roberts family urging them to act immediately to save his life.
MEMORIAL FOR ISAIAH HAMMETT:
One Year Anniversary of Isaiah’s SWAT Murder
6-7-18 — Isaiah was killed on June 7, 2017 in a no-knock SWAT raid conducted by the SLMPD. The SWAT team invaded disabled Vietnam veteran Dennis Torres’ home and killed his grandson and live-in caregiver, Isaiah Hammett. An independent forensic expert, who examined the home, found no evidence that Isaiah shot any of the over 100 rounds fired; all shots appeared to be directed toward Isaiah. Facts of Isaiah’s case can be found here.
Hanging at Workhouse Raises Questions
5-25-18 — John Chasnoff, CAPCR co-chair commented, “For years the Workhouse has been notorious for horrible conditions. People not convicted of a crime are held because they are unable to afford even a low cash bail. This death is yet another reminder it’s past time to close the Workhouse and dramatically change the City’s bail structure.”
4-29-17 — With the opportunity to hire a new Director of Public Safety and a new Police Chief, St. Louis has important choices to make. The Coalition Against Police Crimes urges Mayor Krewson to open the doors and windows of St. Louis government and welcome in some fresh air.
Around the country we are hearing calls for transformative change in our perception of what we mean by public safety. Past “solutions” have tried to keep us safe by arresting and incarcerating. Our jails and prisons are overflowing, and still we do not feel safe. A system that does not solve the root problems of racism, poverty, housing and healthcare will always produce more “criminals.” And how safe can a child born in Jeff-Vander-Lou feel when her life expectancy is 18 years less than a child born in Clayton?
After generations of choosing a Police Chief from inside the department, we need the fresh perspective of an outsider. We also need a Director of Public Safety and a Police Chief, working together, who understand that solving community safety problems requires police to partner with other government agencies, private social service providers, and most importantly with members of the affected community.
Successfully recruiting and selecting candidates with this vision must involve the community in all stages of the selection process. There are models for this type of Police Chief search around the country. Portland created committees of diverse residents to capture community values, write a job description and vet candidates. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh had the same diverse community group work in conjunction with a professional search team to broaden the scope and quality of its outreach to candidates.
Though her more recent statements allowed for the possibility of community members on the search team, Mayor Krewson originally downplayed community involvement in the selection process even before that process has been explored or created. Citing a concern for the privacy of applicants, she has rejected citizen participation in candidate interviews, a process that Ferguson recently implemented without problems. The mayor’s initial statement exemplifies the “old school” status quo fallback position which she must overcome to represent the whole city of St. Louis. We hope her position continues to evolve.
Her concerns can be met by the creation of a confidentiality agreement signed by those involved. More importantly, we need candidates who are willing to take some risks to be part of an open community process. St. Louis can ill afford a Chief who merely pays lip service to transformative community policing.
We look forward to helping shape a selection process that allows the people of the city to know that the new Public Safety leadership is our leadership, representing our values in such a way that we are serving and protecting each other.
To Support this statement click here.
Arch City Defenders
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Ethical Society of Police
Faith for Justice
Justice and Equity Collaborative at SLU LAW
Metropolitan Congregations United
Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates
MoKaBe’s Coffee House
MOmentum: Missouri Moving Forward, Social and Racial Justice Affinity Group, Bronwen Zwirner & Marsha Marsh, co-chairs.
Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment
Organization for Black Struggle
SEIU MO/KS State Council
Rasheen Aldridge, 5th Ward Committeeman
Janey Archey, 25th Ward Resident
Kristian Blackmon, Local Organizer and ActivistKayla Reed, Community Organizer for St. Louis Action Council
Glenn Burleigh, Community Activist
Maggie Cain, SLU LAW Student
John Chasnoff, Community Activist
Sean Cochran, SLU LAW Student
Mo Costello, Owner of Mokabe’s Coffeehouse
Lucas Cusack, SLU LAW Student
David Dwight, 5th Ward Resident
Bruce Franks Jr., 78th District State Representative
Ilana Friedman, Co-Founder Justice and Equity Collaborative at SLU LAW
Megan Green, 15th Ward Alderwoman
Maureen Hanlon, SLU LAW Student
Thomas Harvey, Attorney
Michelle Higgins, Director of Faith for Justice, Community Organizer
Colleen Kelley, Community Organizer
De Nichols, Social Design Strategist
Dan Pawlowicz, SLU LAW Student
Tom Prost, CAPCR Member
Kathryn Redmond, President of Black Law Students Association at SLU LAW
Kayla Reed, Community Organizer for St. Louis Action Council
Johnny M. Simon, Attorney
Mary Simon, Co-President of Women Law Students Association at SLU LAW
Ericka Simpson Conner, SLU LAW Student
Blake Strode, Attorney
Erline Tattegrain, SLU LAW Student
Mark Timmerman, Law Student
Jack Waldron, Co-Founder of Street Law at SLU LAW
Candace Weatherfield, SLULAW Student
Jessica Wernli, Community Organizer
Lola Zasaretti, Community Organizer
To Support this statement click here.
12-16-17 Anyone But O’Toole Call-In Campaign
July 29, 2016–Hats off to the Anti-Racist Collective (ARC) from The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression. We support your campaign to remove Jeff Roorda from his position as business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association (SLPOA). His divisive rants in the media only set back the cause of achieving racial justice in this country.
As long as the SLPOA retains him, we’re with ARC in assuming that the SLPOA represents a culture of policing which never should have been and whose time has clearly passed.
We encourage candidates to reject SLPOA endorsements while Roorda holds his position. And we appreciate those candidates publicly calling for his dismissal.
For more info on the campaign: https://www.facebook.com/ARCSTL/?fref=ts
LOCAL ADVOCATES RESPOND TO POLICE KILLINGS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Chasnoff, 314-413-0454
ST. LOUIS, MO (July 8, 2016) – In the wake of last night’s killings of five police officers by a sniper during a protest in Dallas, TX that followed this week’s shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in St. Paul, MN, local groups supporting the Movement for Black Lives and policing reforms, including the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression, Don’t Shoot Coalition, Empower Missouri, Organization for Black Struggle, Metropolitan Congregations United Police Reform Task Force, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, and Peace Economy Project, issued the following statement:
“Senseless killing is senseless killing. The shooting of officers and civilians in Dallas does nothing to advance the cause of justice regarding extrajudicial killing by police, and there is no reason to believe the Dallas shooter was in any way connected to the peaceful protestors outraged by this week’s deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police.
When tensions are high, and the nation is at a point of extreme frustration at our inability to stop the horribly misguided taking of black lives by government authorities, it is deeply disappointing but hardly surprising that horribly misguided individuals would lash out. We are confident that our criminal justice system will hold them accountable.
We have not seen law enforcement held to the same level of accountability in the endless killing of people of color without justification and under color of law. Until we do, the disparate treatment, and the justified anger that black lives still do not matter in this country, will unfortunately cause the situation to continue to spin further out of control. We must stop the cycle of violence. It is well past the time that the government needs to make clear that it will not condone the taking of innocent lives by those wearing uniforms as well as by those who do not.
Our sincere condolences go out to all victims of violence, and we will continue to advocate for reforms to work toward the day when the families of black people across this country, as well as the families of police officers, are no longer forced to mourn their loved ones gunned down in our streets.”
• Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
• Don’t Shoot Coalition
• Empower Missouri
• Organization for Black Struggle
• Metropolitan Congregations United Police Reform Task Force
• Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates
• Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment
• Peace Economy Project
November 16, 2015
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Contact: John Chasnoff 314-413-0454
Clock ticking for District 3 Civilian Oversight Applications
When the Board of Alders confirmed six of seven Civilian Oversight Board (COB) members on October 23, the District 3 seat was left unfilled. This was the result of Deborah Ahmed’s withdrawal of her name for consideration. According to our interpretation of the legislation, the mayor has thirty days from that date to put forward a new nominee from that District. That timeline has been confirmed to us by Alderman Terry Kennedy.
The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) recently contacted the mayor’s office for an update, and learned that the mayor had opened up his application process so that newly interested persons from District 3 could put forward their names for consideration. Those who had applied earlier, the mayor’s office said, are still eligible. The mayor has set no deadline for new applications, nor did his office seem aware of the thirty day window for nominees. We found no announcement on the mayor’s website about the current application process, and the online application itself has no mention of dates. That application can be accessed at https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/mayor/documents/upload/COB-Application-2015.pdf
Jamala Rogers, co-chairperson for CAPCR, had this comment: “The mayor’s office has done too little to publicize the opportunity for new applicants, so it is not surprising that no new candidates have filed. Along with the excellent District 3 candidates who applied earlier, we are hoping that others might step forward who would expand the diversity of the COB. The current makeup of the Board lacks the insights that would come from someone with mental health training or the perspective of a young black male. “
The mayor must notify the Board of Alders of his new nominee by November 23. That leaves little time for a new applicant to come forward. We suggest that anyone interested contact the mayor’s office so that the vetting process can begin even before they complete the official application.
July 21, 2015
What: Release of New Civilian Oversight Candidates and Analysis of Selection Process
Who: The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Contact: John Chasnoff, firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-413-0454
COALITION SEES MANY STRONG COB APPLICANTS BUT FAILURES OF LEADERSHIP AMONG ALDERS
Through records received from the Board of Alders and the mayor’s office, the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) has obtained the list of applicants for membership on the Civilian Oversight Board (COB) and the written recommendations from alders that were submitted according to the process outlined in the COB legislation. The list of candidates who had filed the required application with the mayor as of July 17 numbers forty-three. One other applicant filed the wrong application. Applications will be received through July 24, and by August 6 the mayor must nominate seven candidates corresponding with seven COB Districts created by the new ordinance. A list of applicants is here. The complete set of applications, with personal information redacted, is posted here (Click “Download” and “No Thanks, Continue to Download”).
Also posted are the formal recommendations made by the various alders. These recommendations were submitted, in accordance with the ordinance, to the mayor’s office in writing through the Clerk of the Board of Alders (BOA) on the July 6 deadline. Three candidates are recommended jointly by three of the alders from the 6th COB District. The 18th ward alder recommended one other candidate. It remains unclear whether other alders made verbal or written recommendations directly to the mayor. The mayor’s office indicated that some names were forwarded directly to them, but they are currently seeking to clarify if forwarding of names constituted a recommendation.
“It is disheartening to see that so few alders took the opportunity to formally endorse candidates,” said CAPCR Co-Chair Jamala Rogers. “We consider this a dereliction of duty. Alders had the opportunity to stand up for community members willing to serve in this important capacity, and they have for the most part stood on the sidelines. Either they are bypassing transparency and public accountability by engaging in vague or informal conversations with the mayor, or they are doing nothing.”
In the absence of broad input from the BOA, the mayor’s office has improvised a system. All applications that came directly to him were sent to the BOA and then returned to the mayor on the day of the deadline. The mayor’s office has stated that they are considering that whole package as coming from the BOA. The mayor had no legal need to engage in such complications; he is under no legal obligation to nominate only those coming from the alders. His office stated that he did so in an effort to foster open communication.
”Whatever the intent, we believe this process to be a charade that makes it appear that the alders are involved with COB selection when they are not,” stated John Chasnoff, CAPCR’s other Co-Chair. “We hope alders decide to engage with their constituents and stand up for a high-quality, diverse COB when the confirmation of nominees comes before them in September.”
For Immediate Release
March 21, 2015
Ferguson-related protests of police misconduct have led to a general consensus about the need for civilian oversight of the St. Louis County police departments. This sign of progress comes after a decade of Charlie Dooley’s opposition to civilian oversight and no interest at all among the 58 municipal police agencies.
We don’t have models for structuring county-wide oversight from other states because most existing civilian oversight boards serve city governments. Thus, we have an exciting opportunity to set a new standard for police accountability right here in Missouri.
Clearly we should not try to create separate oversight boards for each department. Many of these departments are too small to make ongoing oversight feasible, efficient or effective. Taxpayers will get the most bang for their bucks by pooling resources and expertise into one Civilian Oversight Board for the county, creating a more just and consistent system in the process. Starting with oversight of the County police may be a first step, but how do we persuade the independent municipalities to participate in a county-wide oversight structure?
We hope that the U. S. Department of Justice Ferguson report may provide some help in this regard. First, the report recognizes that a civilian oversight board is just one part of a complete accountability toolkit. Second, like all who have examined the conditions that brought us to the day of Michael Brown’s shooting, the DOJ acknowledges that the problems do not begin or end at the Ferguson borders. We need to leverage the DOJ response to Ferguson into an umbrella system of police accountability.
It is time to envision what that police accountability for our whole county should look like. We need to think broadly about systems of accountability that keep the best of small local departments–responsiveness, accessibility, easier citizen involvement–but also provide professionalism and consistent high standards.
One potential model is to create two distinct county-wide agencies to help ensure accountability:
1) An expanded Office of Professional Standards reporting to the County Police Chief
This Office would manage training for all county and municipal officers, operate a County Internal Affairs Division to investigate misconduct complaints against county and municipal officers, oversee one county-wide Early Warning System to intervene and address the behaviors of problem officers, enforce a zero-tolerance policy for bias-based policing by both individuals and departments, and set county-wide policies on use-of-force issues and other issues of community concern.
2) A new Department of Civilian Oversight reporting to the County Supervisor or County Council
It is crucial that civilian oversight be structurally independent, with its own skilled Department head and its own budget, yet be able to work in a collegial manner with police. With adequate staffing, it could review investigations generated by complaints against individual officers, and also give input regarding county and municipal policies, operations and procedures. In this way it could encourage proper discipline of individuals but also help create systemic best practices. To help manage workloads and to ensure that civilian oversight reflect local priorities, the Department of Civilian Oversight might create three separate oversight boards—one each for North, Central and South County.
We hope to start a broad community discussion on this proposal and others regarding police accountability for St. Louis County. The Ferguson Commission, relevant professional organizations, and most importantly the residents of St. Louis County should weigh in on this subject, putting forth alternative or complimentary methods for achieving police accountability. There is no more pressing issue facing us as a community.
Coalition Against Police Crimes & Repression
Residents press for accountability in face of St. Louis Police threats to abandon duties
For Immediate Release – February 3, 2015
Contact: John Chasnoff (314.413.0454)
St. Louis – Members of the Coalition Against Police Crimes & Repression (CAPCR), a collective of residents committed to fair and humane policing, have called foul on the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association’s (SLPOA) desperate threats to shirk their duties if the Board of Aldermen votes to create a Civilian Oversight Board to bring greater accountability and transparency to policing in the City of St. Louis.
“Most major cities have established civilian review bodies to help protect the safety and integrity of policing,” said CAPCR member John Chasnoff. “We have to wonder why the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association wants our city to go without this established best practice. What are they so afraid of?”
SLPOA spokesman Jeff Roorda came out swinging – literally – at a January 29 public hearing on the issue. In addition to being caught on tape assaulting a female community member who attended the hearing, Roorda announced that officers would stand down in the fight against crime if the Civilian Oversight Board passes.
News reports from the hearing quote Roorda saying that “They’d answer their calls when they got them, but as far as interrupting criminal behavior on their own, why in the world would they do that when their employers aren’t even supporting them?”
While Roorda suggests the establishment of an accountability body indicates lack of support from their employers, in fact, the role of civilian review bodies help protect the interests of officers who value professionalism and want “bad apples” weeded out so that they don’t spoil the bunch.
“Officers who conduct their duties with integrity have nothing to fear,” said Chasnoff. “In fact, the work of a civilian oversight body can result in improved policies and greater resources to officers on the ground.”
The people of St. Louis have sought a Civilian Oversight Board for years and have utilized the lessons learned from some 200 similar bodies across the country. These bodies typically investigate complaints and make recommendations for their disposition, report on trends in policing, and recommend policies that can improve conditions and practices for officers and members of the public alike.
“Mr. Roorda is apparently having problems reading the room,” said Chasnoff. “The people of St. Louis and their elected representatives have had enough. It’s time for a new era of
accountability. To respond by trying to intimidate our Aldermembers with threats of refusing to do their jobs really speaks to the SLPOA’s lack of understanding of modern policing and the priorities of the people.”
“Anyone with crime reduction and the city’s best interest in mind would not threaten to abandon ship like this, said CAPCR member Anna Baltzer. “Roorda’s attitude illustrates once again that some police officers believe they are above scrutiny and the law. This further underscores the need for effective civilian review in St. Louis.”
CAPCR and people from around the city will redouble their efforts to secure this long-sought accountability body and stand behind our elected officials who take their place on the right side of history.
Coalition Against Police Crimes & Repression
Contact: John Chasnoff (314.413.0454)
SLPOA’s Jeff Roorda’s behavior is why there’s no trust in the police
The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) has had enough of Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Association. Last night he broke the law and needs to be arrested for assault. He disrupted the proceedings and needs to make a public apology to the Public Safety Committee.
The incident happened at a public hearing on a bill in the Board of Aldermen to create a Civilian Oversight Board for the police. Roorda escalated already existing tensions by showing his “I am Darren Wilson” bracelet to a group of young people near the front of the room. Evidently frustrated with the way the hearing had gone in favor of the Oversight Board, Roorda shouted an outburst at the Committee Chair Terry Kennedy and rushed toward the front of the room. In doing so, he grabbed Cache Currie, a woman in his path, by the arm and shoved her.
“The existence of tension, and especially Jeff Roorda’s outrageous behavior, shows all the more clearly the need for Civilian Oversight,” said Jamala Roger’s, CAPCR’s chairperson. “Watching Roorda’s actions and those of some members of the St. Louis Police Officers Association only gave more reasons why citizens are distrustful of the police. Roorda needs to be held accountable, and that’s why we need the CRB to hold all police to the standard that they are not above the law.”
Rank and file police officers should realize that they are badly represented by a man who has shown his inability to control himself throughout the turmoil in the St. Louis area. Roorda has come to epitomize the entitled attitude of police who think they can break the law with impunity.
Will he now be allowed to assault a woman, on camera and inside a meeting in City Hall, and get away with it again?