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St. Louis County Council: No confidence in police chief

April 14, 2021 GMT

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — The St. Louis County Council has declared in a split vote that it has has no confidence in county Police Chief Mary Barton.

The council’s 4-3 vote Tuesday fell along party lines, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The nonbinding resolution condemned Barton’s leadership, saying the chief was incapable of leading the St. Louis County Police Department “in the right direction.”

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The move follows widely publicized complaints of racial misconduct within the department and allegations of retaliation against officers who raised concerns. Barton has served as chief of the department for about a year, and council members who voted in favor of the resolution acknowledged that many department issues preceded Barton’s hiring. But, they said, Barton has shown to be ineffective in enacting change.

Councilwomen Rita Heard Days, Lisa Clancy, Kelli Dunaway and Shalonda Webb voted in favor of the no-confidence measure. Councilmen Tim Fitch, Mark Harder and Ernie Trakas voted against the measure, saying it unfairly blamed Barton for some matters that were outside of her control.

In a statement following the vote, Barton said the resolution, “amounts to your opinion … and that has no legal standing.”

The move is largely symbolic. The county commission oversees the police budget, but the chief is hired by an independent five-member Board of Police Commissioners appointed by County Executive Sam Page.