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. 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 before they are presented to the Chief and may make recommendations on officer discipline.
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.