St. Charles County voters will decide whether to establish a county police department which would be responsible for law enforcement duties in the county.
Under the proposal, the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department would remain in charge of court services, prisoner transport, process serving. The elected sheriff would remain in charge of these departments.
About 180 sheriff's employees would move over to the new police department when it's created in 2015, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Those employees would be overseen by a new county police chief.
Sheriff Tom Neer said his main purpose in suggesting the change is to ensure a qualified person is running law enforcement in St. Charles County. The appointed police chief would have to have 15 years of law enforcement experience, six years of management experience and a college degree.
To run for sheriff, a candidate must be a registered voter who has lived in the county for at least two years, at least 21 and free of felony convictions.
Neer said he's unsure if he's interested in the police chief position, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's up for reelection in 2014.
Opponents feel the change would remove accountability for the Sheriff from the people. "It will not provide additional protection for county citizens. The remaining diminished Sheriff’s department will not have law enforcement powers/duties," wrote Lisa Payne-Naeger in a blog post urging residents to vote against the amendment.
Councilman Joe Brazil said the people in his district are opposed to not being able to elect a sheriff.
"I don't think people in St. Charles County are too stupid to make the right choice for sheriff," Brazil said.
Other County Charter Amendments
In addition to the sheriff's department question, voters will consider a number of other charter amendments including:
ST. CHARLES COUNTY BALLOT ISSUES
- Question 1: Amends the St. Charles County Charter in four ways;
- The county would give written notice to other municipal governments that they will be included in the master plan if they want.
- The county would have to post ordinances that include a penalty for violation on the County's website and in six public places instead of having to post it in a local newspaper.
- A technical amendment that clarifies the length of time for bills to be presented to the County Executive, and requires a veto override vote to be taken within 30 days of veto.
- The County Executive would have to submit a proposed budget to the County Council by Nov. 5 or the first working day after Nov. 5 each year.
- Question 2: This would allow the County Executive to appoint someone to fill a vacancy on the County Council who is a member of the same political party as the person who left, subject to approval by the council. The appointee would serve until the next general election.
- Question 3: This amendment would give the County Executive oversight of the working conditions of employees in the county, as well as the ability to investigate harassment and discrimination.
- Question 4: This amendment would prohibit officers and employees of the county from accepting a service or thing of value from someone who has dealings with the county.
- County Proposition A: This would amend the charter to require a council member to forfeit his office if he is physically absent from 12 consecutive meetings of the council unless excused.
See our full St. Charles election results wrap up here.