Police Study

departments provide service to 1.3 million people over 589 square miles


police departments in St. Louis City and St. Louis County are not accredited.

jurisdictions of police departments a resident of Ellisville traveling to a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis passes through

million dollars St. Louis region spends on police service each year


High crime rates are costly

High rates of crime in St. Louis City and parts of St. Louis County are costing governments and individuals staggering sums of money. The total cost of Part I crime in St. Louis City and County combined—including victim, criminal justice, and community costs—was estimated to exceed $1.5 billion in 2013.

Policing is extremely fragmented

St. Louis County contains a patchwork of police departments, many of which have jurisdiction over very small areas. About one-third of the municipalities in the County that have a police department occupy less than one square mile. This has led to confusion and distrust among residents, who often feel targeted and harassed by police officers and the municipal court system.

Fragmentation undermines effective policing

The fragmentation of policing is also inefficient, undermines police operations, and makes it difficult to form effective law enforcement partnerships to combat crime locally and regionally.

Many police departments have inappropriate goals

In many municipalities, policing priorities are driven not by the public safety needs of the community, but rather by the goal of generating large portions of the operating revenue for the local government. This is a grossly inappropriate mission for the police, often carried out at the direction of local elected officials.

Community policing is lacking in many cities where it is needed

Even though residents consistently say they want their police departments to engage in more community-oriented policing, this approach is de-emphasized or non-existent in many jurisdictions, especially in communities with high levels of crime and deep distrust between residents and police.

The “muni shuffle” is unprofessional

Police standards, training, pay, and professionalism vary dramatically throughout the region. Of particular concern is the so-called “muni shuffle,” in which police officers who are fired or allowed to resign because of disciplinary or performance issues in one department are quickly hired by another department, because it can be less expensive to hire an experienced (albeit compromised) officer than to recruit and train a new officer.

Concerns about race permeate the justice system

Race is an issue that permeates almost every aspect of policing and justice in St. Louis City and County. Concerns over racial tensions and racial bias were raised throughout the course of this study, especially by African-Americans and young people. The failure to address the racial issues in policing is holding back progress.