- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BROOKLYN, Ill. (AP) - Drugs and cash missing from evidence. Police officers getting drunk at strip clubs and pulling weapons on civilians. Tying employee paychecks to traffic ticket quotas to generate city revenue from hefty tow truck fees.

Citing those and a host of other allegations about the troubled and tiny Brooklyn Police Department, a southern Illinois prosecutor on Wednesday said that he is no longer taking cases from the municipal police force in the 700-person village just outside St. Louis.

“The Brooklyn Police Department does not meet even the minimal standards of credibility and reliability for prosecution,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said at news conference in nearby East St. Louis, where he was joined by the county sheriff and several community leaders. “Any police department which undermines public trust and public safety to this extent is no longer a police department.”

The move comes after Illinois State Police and St. Clair sheriff’s deputies confiscated weapons, computers and documents in a March 25 raid of the Brooklyn police station caught on camera by a local TV news crew. The village police chief and four other officers have since resigned, leaving only a handful of officers on the payroll and forcing Brooklyn to rely on state troopers and county deputies - including for help investigating an early morning shooting Wednesday inside a Brooklyn strip club.

A state commission formed by former Gov. Pat Quinn has overseen the police departments in Brooklyn and neighboring Alorton, Washington Park and East St. Louis since 2012. A 2014 U.S. Justice Department study suggested that local officials consider dissolving the departments in favor of a single, regional police force. Kelly and several other members of the Metro East Police District Commission said such a move would have to first be initiated by local residents or state lawmakers.

Brooklyn Mayor Vera Glasper-Banks, who Kelly said was briefed earlier in the day about his decision, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors have dismissed 21 Brooklyn criminal cases involving drug possession, weapons violations and other offenses, including cases handled by a Brooklyn detective accused of taking an illegal assault rifle from the department’s evidence vault, keeping it in his squad car and posing with the weapon for a department calendar.

Some of the dismissed cases also involve vehicles towed by a firm that contracted with the village police force. It’s owned by a relative of another Brooklyn officer who separately was charged with aggravated battery and public contractor misconduct involving an alleged off-duty assault of an East St. Louis student. Both officers are among those who have since left their jobs.

Retired St. Clair judge Milton Wharton said the seemingly widespread problems in Brooklyn “detract from the officers who are doing their jobs ” at a time when public scrutiny of law enforcement remains high after fatal police shootings in nearby Ferguson and communities from New York to North Charleston, South Carolina.

“I’m saddened,” he said. “With all the issues across the nation involving law enforcement sometimes not living up to community expectations…there is a deep concern about this type of laxity.”

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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