St. Louis city budget plan passes, eliminating vacant police jobs
The positions have been vacant for years. The money will be used for distraction and support programs. Mayor Jones’s budget has yet to be finalized by the board of directors
ST. LOUIS – A plan to eliminate nearly 100 vacant police officer positions in the city was passed during a budget meeting on Thursday morning in St. Louis.
Mayor Tishaura Jones’ budget for fiscal year 2022 included several changes to the original plan, including removing dozens of police openings that have been vacant for years. While there are approximately 150 vacant police positions, Amendment passed Thursday eliminates 98 of them. This leaves around 50 vacancies that can still be filled.
“No current city police officers are going to lose their jobs as a result of this change,” Jones’ office wrote in a press release Thursday morning.
During the meeting, Jones said she and Police Commissioner John Hayden found number 98 together. He attended the meeting to help cut down, and said many of the jobs were hypothetical positions he couldn’t fill despite the city dropping residency requirements.
If approved by the Board of Aldermen, the police will need to closely monitor the overtime figures in their budget.
The department traditionally had an over-budget of $ 3-4 million for OT, but they stayed on budget because they had extra cash from salaries that weren’t paid due to vacancies. Now the money is being distributed elsewhere.
Jones said that $ 4 million in the budget that would have been used to pay for these positions will instead be used for distraction and support programs, as described below by Jones’ office:
- $ 1.5 million will be allocated to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, an issue that was most scrutinized during a public statement last Friday.
- $ 1 million to provide victim support services, including assistance with funeral expenses, medical needs, child care, mental health support, case and crisis management, and trauma-related support.
- $ 1 million to increase the Department of Health and Human Services capacity to assist the unhodged.
- $ 500,000 for affirmative litigation directing the city council office to provide legal assistance to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (CREA).
Jones said the city’s budget continued to provide money for a certain number of police officers for years, even though the number of officers actually working for the city had decreased.
“Budgets are moral documents, and past budgets do not reflect the common values or the emerging needs of the most vulnerable St. Louisans,” said Mayor Jones. “For many years the budget has not been supporting people’s needs and as a result there has been a record number of murders and other acts of violence. What we did is not working. With this revised budget, St. Louis will pioneer a new avenue to tackle some of the leading causes of crime. “
The budget changes were passed during the city’s appraisal and apportionment committee meeting on Thursday morning. The next step is for the Board of Directors to look at the changes and vote to approve or change them.
This is a developing story that will be updated as soon as 5 On Your Side confirms more details.