St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones accused the Ethical Society of Police of lying on its Facebook page after the membership group issued a statement accusing her administration of excluding them from discussions about a controversial civilian oversight bill.
Jones signed Board Bill 47 Wednesday, which she said will hold officers more accountable by creating a Civilian Oversight Board that the police union says has the power to discipline officers, review personnel records and all categories of complaints levied against officers.
The Ethical Society of Police is a membership organization for primarily Black Officers.
The statement signed by its board that drew Jones’ ire read: “Today, the City of St. Louis Board Bill 47 was signed. Though ESOP along with the other two labor unions opposed the bill, we understand the need for a civilian oversight board. We were never brought to the table to provide insight for the bill, which was written too broadly. We’ve had discussions with the other two labor unions and are in agreement that there needs to be fair representation in amending the bill. ESOP is concerned that, if it is not implemented carefully, good officers could be targeted by persons with a hidden agenda against law enforcement.
Jones replied to the Facebook post with, “That’s not true and is a bold-faced LIE. We’ve been talking about this bill for nearly a year. Ald. Clark Hubbard had three hearings and you didn’t show up and testify. I had quarterly meetings with your leadership and no one said a word. Again, if you’re a good officer, you have nothing to worry about. I thought ESOP stood for holding bad actors accountable? I think you should give the law a chance to work before suggesting amendments. Be blessed.”
The Ethical Society of Police then responded to her post with, “It is not our intent to publicly debate the extent to which input from our organization and others was sought during the crafting of this legislation. Our only intent is to ensure this legislation doesn’t have an unintended negative impact on the Department and the community. Waiting until damage has been done is neither wise nor an attribute of an effective leader.
We strongly object to the Mayor’s unprofessional response and attempt to degrade our organizational values or marginalize our commitment to the fair and equitable treatment of the community we serve. ESOP has been and will always be about accountability, and we welcome an oversight board. We are calling for the thoughtful implementation of this bill and input from organizations that represent constituents. This should be welcome, not controversial.”
Jones responded back with: “Ethical Society of Police, you don’t want to publicly debate this but you made a public statement on a public platform and didn’t attend any of the public hearings to publicly express your thoughts and insight about the bill when it was being debated…in public. Might I add that your former president, who is now the Deputy Public Safety Director, was at the table for almost every discussion of this bill. I frequently heard her push back and change several provisions with every day officers in mind. Heather (Taylor) brings her entire lived experience as an officer and as former president of ESOP to the table with her every single day. Are you also saying that she’s wrong? Again, if you’re a good officer, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
On Friday morning, the Ethical Society of Police responded.
“We did not want to get into the weeds with the Mayor of the City of St. Louis on social media. However, the continued allegations that we are lying must be corrected.
“The leadership of the Ethical Society of Police was unaware of Board Bill 47 until June 2022. We were not informed of any public hearings or invited to provide input. The bill was not brought up with the Mayor because we were not aware of the bill any of the times we met. She did not bring it up.
“On June 27, 2022, at the 18th Ward Community Meeting, the ESOP President expressed to the citizens that ESOP was in support of a Civilian Oversight Board (COB), but we could not support the bill as it was written because the language was unclear. Alderwoman Clark-Hubbard was present at this meeting.
“There was no further outreach or invitation for input until Alderwoman Clark-Hubbard sent an email to the ESOP President on July 12, three days before voting. We felt it was too late to hold a meeting and dissect this lengthy and broad bill. We informed her after the ESOP general membership meeting that we could not support the bill and it ‘should be shelved until it is amended to be fair to those officers and civilians of the SLMPD.’
he role of Internal Affairs in conducting investigations into use of force and allegations of officer misconduct,” Isom said.