ST. LOUIS — The police department’s internal affairs division has launched an “inquiry” after a police detective who’s a union member used department email to send political endorsements to more than 160 colleagues.
The email was sent Saturday by Detective Michael Herzberg on behalf of the St. Louis Police Officers Association to make clear which candidates the union is supporting in Tuesday’s election.
The use of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department email was criticized by the Ethical Society of Police, which lobbies on behalf of minority officers.
“The SLPOA’s actions blatantly violated police policy, using the SLMPD email system for political gain,” the group said in a statement. “SLMPD officers are not allowed to use SLMPD emails to support candidates in upcoming elections ... The SLPOA continues to show their disrespect of policy and procedures with their disregard for rules that hold us as officers accountable.”
The police union’s business manager, Jeff Roorda, said Herzberg meant to send the email using a union account but mistakenly sent it from his department email.
“Nothing prohibits him from sending our endorsements to department email addresses from his personal email so there was no harm done,” Roorda said in a text. “Same people would have received it no matter what email address he sent it from.”
The ethical society says it wants department policies enforced that say department technology can’t be used for the “promotion of political or religious positions, opinions or actions.”
The email, obtained by the Post-Dispatch from retired police Sgt. Heather Taylor, the former head of the ethical society, endorsed the reelection of President Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Parson.
All but two of the 29 candidates endorsed in the email are Republicans. The exceptions are Democrat Bob Burns for St. Louis County Council District 6 and Democrat Steve Butz for House District 81.
The email additionally urged officers to reject Proposition D, which would establish a nonpartisan election system for the offices of mayor, comptroller and alderman. It would also allow voters to choose multiple candidates in each race. The top two candidates for an office would then face each other in a runoff.
The police union contends the proposition is equivalent to defunding the police department. Roorda previously said the proposition would give an “unfair, undemocratic advantage” to candidates who have been unfriendly to police and funding requests.
Mark Schlinkmann of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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