By Associated Press - Thursday, December 10, 2020

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - The St. Louis County Council is threatening to block police collective bargaining agreements if the department and the police union won’t agree to greater public oversight.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the council’s resolution Tuesday came on the heels of an ultimatum from the Ethical Society of Police, an association that represents several Black officers, urging Chief Mary Barton to address racism in the department.

Barton, who is white, told the council earlier this year that systemic racism did not exist in the department, a comment that angered ESOP leaders.

The resolution vote fell along party lines - the four Democrats supported it, the three Republicans opposed it.

The resolution says the council expects the department and union to agree to a contract that “removes barriers to effective misconduct investigations” and provides for civilian oversight. Among other things, it also calls for making officers’ disciplinary histories accessible to the public and for a more transparent discipline process.

The department is seeking to renew a two-year contract with about 100 sergeants, which expires on Dec. 31.

Joe Patterson, executive director of the police association, said the union “has zero control over discipline in the police department,” calling it a management right.

A police spokesman declined comment.

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