- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A St. Louis County judge has ruled that the county cannot require police departments in 57 cities and towns to adhere to a set of standards for the use of force, vehicle pursuits and other matters.

Circuit Judge Robert S. Cohen issued a summary judgment Wednesday in favor of a challenge by several larger cities in the county, including Florissant, Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Hazelwood and Clayton, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1ZmLMGh ). The cities called the county measure “illegal and unconstitutional.”

County Executive Steve Stenger, a driving force behind the law, says the county will appeal.

“We will continue to fight to ensure that all county residents have equal access to consistent high-quality law enforcement no matter where they live or travel,” Stenger, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Varying police standards came under scrutiny after the 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, by a white Ferguson police officer. The officer wasn’t charged, but the shooting spurred protests as well as examinations of how blacks are treated by police in the St. Louis region.

St. Ann Alderman Amy Poelker, a Republican, and other critics contended the county blindsided municipalities with legislation that removes local control of law enforcement procedures and standards.

“I’m very pleased,” Poelker said of the decision. “Stenger never consulted with St. Ann or anyone else. The decision was made long before it was brought to the public.”

Stenger believes that minimum police standards are covered by a charter provision granting the county oversight of public health. But the judge ruled that the county executive “is not even authorized to impose the standards of the ordinance on the St. Louis County Police Department as that power rests with the St. Louis County Superintendent of Police and the Board of Police Commissioners.”

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

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