Board of Police Commissioners

The St. Louis County Police Department Board of Police Commissioners is a civilian oversight board with five members representing the citizens of St. Louis County. 

The current board members are: 

Judge William Price - Chariman
Ms. Michelle Schwerin - Vice Chairman
Mr. Mark Gaertner - Secretary
Dr. L.J. Punch - Member
Ms. Thomasina Hassler - Member 

They are the final authority on general orders and policies that govern the control and supervision of the St. Louis County Police Department. Board members are selected from the community by the County Executive and approved by the County Council.  St. Louis County was ahead of its time recognizing the need for civilian oversight and established the Board of Police Commissioners in 1955.  According to the St. Louis County Charter, the "Board of Police Commissioners shall consist of five citizens of the State of Missouri, resident freeholders of the County for not less than three (3) years next preceding their appointment and thirty (30) years or more of age." Not more than three members of said Board shall belong to the same political party, and none shall hold any other public office in the County or elsewhere members of the organized militia or of the reserve corps of the Armed Services and notaries public expected. The members of the board shall be appointed by the county executive with the approval of a majority of the entire county council.”  The Board derives its authority from Section 4.270 of the St. Louis County Charter where it states, “The board of police commissioners shall be in charge of the police department.”

The St. Louis County Charter authorizes the Board of Police Commissioners to perform a variety of critical functions and tasks. For example, they review policies governing the operation and conduct of the department by approving all General Orders or policies of the Department. The Board appoints and provides oversight of the Chief of Police with the power to dismiss the Chief. The Board reviews all external complaints.

The Board conducts hearings for employees appealing discipline or termination by the Chief and hears appeals from citizens over complaint dispositions.

The function of the Board is unique among police departments in that it allows the police department to remain independent of political influence while at the same time providing direct oversight from citizens representing St. Louis County. Anyone wishing to address the Board is welcome to speak at a Board meeting held every month at police headquarters. For information on how to establish a citizen review board similar to the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners or learn the manner in which they operate, please contact 314-615-4277. You can also visit The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement website. 

Current Police Commissioners

 

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Judge William Price, Jr., Chairman
Date Appointed: November 2019

Judge William "Ray" Price is a lawyer at Armstrong Teasdale.  Ray previously served as a judge on the Missouri Supreme for twenty years and as Chief Justice for four years. Prior to joining the Court, Ray served as President of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. 

 

 

 

 

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Ms. Michelle Schwerin, Vice-Chairman

Date Appointed: November 2019

Michelle F. Schwerin is a native of St. Louis.  She graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins and returned to St. Louis after studying business at Tulane University.  After attending law school at Washington University in St. Louis, she began her practice and is currently a shareholder at Capes Sokol. 

She is holds leadership positions within the American Bar Association- Section of Taxation and Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants.  Michelle is an adjunct professor at Webster University, where she teaches at the Walker School of Business & Technology.  She also stays active as a board member of the Henry and Gladys Crown Center for Senior Living and St. Louis Jewish Community Center.  Michelle was appointed in November 2019.

 

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Mr. Mark Gaertner, Secretary

Date Appointed: November 2016

Mark J. Gaertner is a native of St. Louis. He graduated from Rohan Woods School, Chaminade Preparatory School, St. Louis University and St. Louis University School of Law.

 Mark is currently a partner with the law firm of Holloran Schwartz & Gaertner, LLP. He is a past president of the St. Louis County Bar Association and stays active in organizations such as Responder Rescue and The Backstoppers. Mark was appointed to the Police Board Commissioners in November of 2016. 

 

 

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Dr. L.J. Punch, Member
Date Appointed: December 2019

Dr. Punch loves to heal.  This desire to heal has brought to life a career with a three-fold focus: education, violence and equity.
As a trauma surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine this work came to life in various undergraduate and graduate medical education courses focused on the experience of violence related injury across the entire spectrum of illness and healing. Through community engagement in St. Louis, Dr. Punch carries this mission forward each day, bridging the gap between the resources inside healthcare and the voices of the people. This includes a campaign to bring the national “Stop the Bleed” campaign to members of the St. Louis community at risk for violence and serious injury. This also includes the creation of “The T”, an anti-violence community center which focuses on harm reduction as primary prevention of urban public health concerns including bullet injuries, homelessness, opiate use disorder and COVID-19. Dr. Punch has worked diligently to serve medical professionals, patients, families and communities in their shared journey toward healing.

Ms. Thomasina Hassler, Member
Date Appointed: December 2019