The Centene Corporation hired Teneo Risk Advisory to complete a review of the Metropolitan Police Department – City of St. Louis (SLMPD) and St. Louis County Police Department on behalf of St. Louis-area businesses after the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement. Since the brutal murder of George Floyd there has been a consistent outcry to address systemic racism in law enforcement. Teneo Risk Advisory released separate reports on the aforementioned departments on 12/21/2020.
The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP) believes the Teneo Risk Advisory review validates many of the concerns ESOP has raised about the St. Louis County Police Department for the past two years. However, it is disturbing to see Chief Mary Barton and former St. Louis County Counselor and Human Resource Director Carl Becker were not forthcoming with the demographic information relative to employment, discipline, and promotion – they also sought to have the Teneo review team sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). One has to question the motives in that. How committed can St. Louis County be to address the issues when an extraordinary effort was made not to provide the information.
Additionally, the County report points to the tension between the ESOP and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) as evidence of a serious racial divide in the St. Louis County Police Department. The Departments racial issues are a reflection of the lack of leadership from not only the current Chief, Mary Barton, but also the past Chief, Jon Belmar. The Chief is the one who has decision making powers, therefore deflecting the effects or cause of the racial division in the department to the ESOP and the FOP is just another show of lack of leadership from the Chief. It is her and the board of the St. Louis County Police Commissioners’ responsibility to address these conflicts as the appointed leaders, and it is their job to lead and resolve serious conflicts.
We strongly urge you to review the letter released by ESOP on 12/7/2020. The letter listed ten points of action for Chief Barton, the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, and other leaders to make law enforcement in St. Louis County more equitable for marginalized members of the police department and the community.
As much praise as we provide the Teneo Risk Advisory team for their review of St. Louis County Police Department, we must criticize them for the glaring differences with the review of the Metropolitan Police Department – City of St. Louis, which is a minutes’ drive from the St. Louis County Police Department.
Teneo Risk Advisory failed to adequately address systemic racism, a culture of violence in SLMPD, and diversity. Since 2017, SLMPD has had officers murdered, shot, and beaten by SLMPD officers. SLMPD has had numerous officers terminated for violent conduct and police corruption. There have also been numerous documented incidents of racism by SLMPD officers. Their incomplete report does a disservice to the officers and community leaders that have fought side by side for change in SLMPD, St. Louis County Police Department, and other local police departments.
We agree that St. Louis City needs to have a clear plan for addressing violent crime, improve how SLMPD is staffed in district patrols, improving officer morale, and ensure better communication between other local police departments about crime. There are other areas of the Centene/Teneo review we are in full agreement with as well.
Again, we are alarmed by the shallow content provided about diversity, systemic racism, and the culture of violence in SLMPD. Our belief is the City of St. Louis needs a review of SLMPD by a community-approved agency with no monetary or political ties to local leadership in the Metropolitan Police Department – City of St. Louis like the Centene Corporation.
We encourage everyone to review ESOP’s report from 8/5/2020, “Report on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) by the Ethical Society of Police,” which outlines systemic and non-systemic concerns from SLMPD police officers and civilians for a better understanding of the concerns our community and officers face.
These are a few incidents the Centene/Teneo review of the Metropolitan Police Department – City of St. Louis failed to address or give clarity about:
- Black and white officers continued inappropriate use of force on handcuffed and unarmed citizens.
- Plainview Project, wherein several St. Louis City officers have been terminated for racist, violent, vile, and homophobic posts on social media.
- In 2020, SLMPD promoted its first black female captain in a decade.
- Shooting of a black St. Louis City officer by a white colleague in 2017.
- The brutal beating of a black St. Louis City Officer by four federally indicted white officers in 2017.
- A $1.1 million dollar payout to a black St. Louis City captain for wrongful termination and racism in 2019.
- A recent settlement of a black officer for racial bias in 2020.
- That 4% of black officers have left SLMPD since 2016.
- The current adverse impact promotional lawsuit by the Ethical Society of Police.
- Treatment of the unhoused community in Downtown St. Louis.
- Numerous EEO complaints and other lawsuits by black officers and civilians.
- Circuit Attorney exclusionary list of SLMPD officers banned from testifying in court.
- Jason Stockley protest and criminal case.
- Kettling lawsuit from 2017 protests naming over 300 St. Louis City officers.
- Two SLMPD police dispatchers fired for racist social media posts in 2020.
- Several high-ranking white commanders allowed to retire with internal charges dropped.
- Inadequacies of the Civilian Oversight Board.
- FUSE Fellow Finding from 2020 that indicated black applicants apply to become police officers more, but they are not hired.
- Culture of violence wherein officers have been threatened by other officers with no real consequence for their actions.
- SLMPD officers on administrative duty for sexual assault allegations.
- 2019 homicide of an off-duty officer by an on-duty officer.
- On-duty officer accused of beating a handcuffed suspect that was not resisting 2020.
# # #
ABOUT THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE
The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP) is an association of police officers, park rangers, and civilians that advocates for racial and gender equity in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis County Police Department. ESOP was founded in 1972 to address racial biases within law enforcement. ESOP also works to improve community/police relations, develop policies and programs to reduce crime, elevate the status of minority civilians and police officers, encourage greater minority employment by law enforcement agencies, and increase professionalism in law enforcement. Membership is open to all races and includes more than 300 law enforcement professionals employed by the City and County of St. Louis. For details, call (314) 690-3565, email email@example.com or visit www.esopstl.org.