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Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Sheriff’s Deputies Be Able To Perform Traffic Stops?

January 24, 2016 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll 6 Comments
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Please vote below

One candidate running for St. Louis Sheriff wants deputies to be able to do traffic stops, to ease the workload on St. Louis Police:

Right now the main task for the 180 sheriff’s deputies in St. Louis is to transport prisoners to and from jail and provide security at courthouses. Vaccaro says having sheriff’s deputies execute traffic stops will free up time for St. Louis police officers to respond and investigate crimes. (KMOV)

To me this seemed like a perfect topic for a non-scientific reader poll:

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mark-AL says:

    Under STL’s current structure, the Sheriff’s Department is a patronage office, led by an elected official who hires patronage employees–friends, family, committeemen, friends and relatives of present, past and future committeemen, friends and relatives of present, past and future aldermen, throwaway employees from other elected offices (former FIRED Chief of Staff in Treasurer’s Office quickly bounced over to serve in a similar position in Jim Murphy’s office, for example), etc, etc, etc. I wonder how prepared some of these patronage sheriff employees are to perform traffic stops. Traffic enforcement has in recent years become more complicated and potentially volatile, and I question the performance of a mostly-untrained deputy-sheriff work force, some of whom last week might have been washing dishes at Denny’s, and how they would react to often-hostile motorists who pose as a challenge (and threat) even to trained police officers. Lots of training would be in order, and in the end, it might be cheaper and more effective just to expand the size of the (real) police force.

    • JZ71 says:

      I have mixed feelings. If “reducing crime” = more uniformed officers making more traffic stops, I don’t see a big problem with the city’s Sheriff’s Office becoming part of the solution. Jefferson County and Washington County (and until recently, St. Charles County) have Sheriff’s deputies as their primary police forces, and they seem to be doing a good job. What it really boils down to is training, standards, procedures, management and leadership, not whether it’s an elected or an appointed position at the top.

      • Mark-AL says:

        You’re right. But under the CURRENT administration and CURRENT structure, jobs in the Sheriff’s office are awarded to friends and to friends of those who are owed favors or support–which may not be the single most important criterion to be followed if one is attempting to build a department that will be given the authority to interrupt your next commute and issue you a traffic ticket.

  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    The fact the city has two law enforcement entities is ridiculous. Does the Sheriff exist becasue of something stipulated in the MO constitution (sorry – not born in the USA so didn’t learn the ins and outs of all that)? The duplication strikes me as silly in a city/county entity like STL. Certainly the $$ used to run the Sheriff’s Department (and all the roles it fills) could be diverted to the City Police. This would be much more efficient.

    In my experience STL police already ignore traffic related offences unless the violation is very egregious. Running stop signs (a local disease to which the Police are not immune), failure to signal, speeding, driving a falling apart junk heap that wouldn’t pass an inspection, these are all examples of things rarely enforced. Police must have more pressing issues (to be clear I’m not criticizing the police here). So in the context of Steve’s question I say sure, why not let the Sheriff pull these folks over. After all the Sheriff gets to do this in various surrounding counties, why couldn’t they do that in the County of the City of STL?

    • JZ71 says:

      In many urban areas in the USA, today, the cops catch the criminals and the Sheriff’s Dept. houses and transports them once they’re in custody, provides security in courtrooms, and serves warrants (so there’s a pretty clear line of demarcation between them and the police). The real “problem” is that Sheriff’s deputies feel (probably rightfully so) that their skills are being underused (and probably underappreciated) and would like to see more “action”. I don’t see where there would be any great savings or efficiencies in combining the two entities; I’m less sure about the wisdom of giving deputies more, parallel, overlapping responsibilities, although cross training and cross responsibilities seem to be working well in Des Peres, where their Public Safety Dept. provides both fire and police services with the same personnel: http://www.desperesmo.org/Index.aspx?NID=100

      • Mark-AL says:

        If you’re driving through Pensacola or Milton, FL, Prichard, AL, or Biloxi/Gulfport or Pascagoula, Mississippi, or anywhere along the I-10 or 1-20 corridors in Louisiana, on into Texas anywhere east of Houston or Tyler, and if you get pulled over by a deputy sheriff working in one of those areas, he’s likely to be driving an oversize, shiny black SUV, equipped with multiple lights on, around and under the grille, and the actual deputy sheriff will likely stand around 6-6″ tall, with a 30″ waist and 28″ biceps , wearing dark glasses, donning a serious demeanor, displaying a no-nonsense attitude. You’ll be eager to do whatever the deputy asks of you. I think you won’t find this type of deputy sheriff in Jim Murphy’s little club.


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