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We Have Many Police Departments In St. Louis

December 8, 2014 Featured, Media, St. Louis County, STL Region 4 Comments

This post is intended to help out headline writers from outside the St. Louis region. Last week many said St. Louis Police when they meant St. Louis County Police.

Recent headlines
Recent headlines all attributing a mistake to the St. Louis Police, rather than the St. Louis County Police

Not their fault, they likely don’t know our long history of fragmentation.

The St. Louis region is in two states — Missouri & Illinois. Sixteen-seventeen counties, half per state, make up the Greater St. Louis area. The St. Louis Police was originally formed in 1808. In 1861, during the Civil War, the Confederate-supporting state took control of the St. Louis Police since the city was pro-Union. St. Louis only got back full control from the state in the last year or two.

In 1876 the rapidly-growing City of St. Louis left St. Louis County, to avoid having to support the rest of the then largely rural county. St. Louis, through changes to the Missouri constitution, became an independent city-county. The City of St. Louis, as a city-county, also has a Sheriff’s department.

St. Louis County Police was formed in 1955, absorbing the St. Louis County Sheriff at that time.  You might think the St. Louis County Police patrol all of St. Louis County, but no. St. Louis County has 90 municipalities. Some, like Ferguson, have their own police force. Others, like Jennings, contract through St. Louis County. Jennings used to have its own force, but it was dissolved in 2011. A few other municipalities contract through a neighboring municipality for police services. Unincorporated areas of St. Louis County are, as you’d expect, covered by St. Louis County Police. One tiny municipality, Flordel Hills, recently started its own police force.

With 884 individual units of government, St. Louis ranks 3rd only to Pittsburgh and Denver among our peer regions in ratio of local governments to citizens. (Where We Stand)

I’m not sure how many of the 884 units of government are police, regardless, the St. Louis Police is different than the St. Louis County Police.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Yes. Yes Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

  2. Adam says:

    Wow, I knew about Pittsburgh but figured Denver had its sh*t together. That’s surprising. At any rate, their convoluted government doesn’t seem to be hindering their growth.

    • JZ71 says:

      Denver has its share of smaller suburban cities, but the bulk of its large number of “governmental units” are special taxing districts, including fire districts, parks districts, water and sewer districts, business improvement districts, a large transit district and multiple school districts, all having the power to levy taxes and having some type of elected board. What most don’t have are police powers – they don’t run speed traps nor have kangaroo courts: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/DOLA-Main/CBON/1251594652456

  3. rusty says:

    Actually l, St Louis has on one police department, like most cities.


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