- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A coalition of 12 municipalities has filed a lawsuit challenging a St. Louis County ordinance regulating police standards.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1OdraiQ ) reports that the municipalities, which include Clayton, Webster Groves and Florissant, filed the suit Thursday to block legislation that could place oversight of policing guidelines in the hands of County Executive Steve Stenger.

Kirkwood, Hazelwood, Creve Coeur, Richmond Heights, St. Ann, Sunset Hills, Bel-Ridge, Edmundson and Frontenac are the other municipalities listed in the lawsuit.

The ordinance was enacted by the County Council last month and went into effect this week.

The lawsuit says the county has no authority over municipal police departments and that the ordinance is “illegal and unconstitutional.” The lawsuit accuses Stenger of refusing to “engage in collaborative and cooperative efforts to enhance police services countywide.”

Stenger said Thursday that the ordinance is lawful and necessary.

“Minimum police standards provide all St. Louis County residents with equal access to consistent, high-quality law enforcement no matter where they live or travel,” the statement said.

He says maintaining police standards falls under the protection of public health, which permits the county to impose benchmarks on law enforcement agencies governed by autonomous city councils and boards of aldermen.

“The status quo is not acceptable and we have the legal right to ensure the health and safety of county residents under the County Charter and state law.”

This is the second legal challenge to the police standards ordinance. Olivette, Rock Hill and Breckenridge Hills filed papers earlier this month asking a judge to reject the law.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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