ST. LOUIS — The Board of Aldermen on Friday authorized a new panel aimed at improving cooperation and communication among various criminal justice agencies and reducing the chances of mistakes.
The measure, which passed 26-0, provides the legal framework for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which has been meeting on a voluntary basis since last fall.
“This is landmark legislation for the state of Missouri,” said the bill’s sponsor, Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22th Ward. “This puts the city of St. Louis on the cutting edge of criminal justice reform.”
The council, a priority of Mayor Lyda Krewson, brings together circuit and municipal judges, police, prosecutors, public defenders, city and state corrections officials, mental health system officials and people from other agencies at monthly meetings to discuss various issues.
Boyd said the panel also hopes to prevent mistakes such as a person remaining in jail a week after his charge has been dismissed by the courts.
A Post-Dispatch article in 2012 detailed four other mistakes in the city’s court system, all involving mistaken identification. Meanwhile, subcommittees of the council have been formed on alternatives to incarceration, information-sharing and public health.
The new law also allows the city administration, the courts and other agencies to enter into formal intergovernmental agreements.
Plans call for the council to hire an executive director paid from $90,000 to $120,000 annually and a planner-analyst earning $65,000 to $85,000, with the city and private donors each paying half the cost.
That kept Sheriff Vernon Betts from endorsing the bill. Betts aide Greg Christian said Betts objects to that spending when the newly-passed city budget doesn’t include enough money for training for all deputies.
Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner also has concerns about creating the paid positions, Alderman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, said last week in initial floor debate. Gardner hasn’t responded to a request for comment. Betts and Gardner’s offices have both participated in the council so far.
Also Friday, the board:
• Delayed final action on a measure to let voters decide whether to repeal the city residency rule for most city employees. The board last week had given the election bill narrow first-round approval. Sponsor Carol Howard, D-14th Ward, said two who voted yes last week are now undecided.
• Voted 12-11 to refuse to revive a bill, defeated last week, to extend overnight curfew hours for children under age 17. The sponsor plans to reintroduce the bill later this year.
• Approved $4 million in tax incentives for Build-A-Bear Workshop to move its headquarters and about 200 jobs from Overland to a building on South 18th Street near Union Station.
The measure sets aside up to half of earnings and payroll taxes from employees to fund improvements to the building. Aldermen previously passed a property tax break for the project.
• Authorized a $48 million plan, largely funded by the federal government, to revamp ramps and streets around Highway 40 (Interstate 64) at Jefferson Avenue.
• Approved tax incentives for the renovation of the Chemical Building at 721 Olive Street into hotel rooms and apartments and for a $115 million building planned for 4210 Duncan Avenue in the Cortex district.
• Authorized a community improvement district in Soulard commercial areas. If approved by residents and property owners in a mail election, a one-cent sales tax hike would fund streetscape and infrastructure improvements and added cleanup, according to sponsor Jack Coatar, D-7th Ward.