U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is encouraged to see some help come to his hometown. A bill signed into law Thursday creates the Metro East Police District Commission, which should help root out corruption and substandard policies within police departments in Saint Clair County. Durbin, whose hometown is East St. Louis, says it’s a step towards corruption-free police departments.
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“It’s going to be independent of the local mayors,” Durbin said, referring to his problems with the mayor of East St. Louis. “When we tried to get the mayor to cooperate with us to change the all-night nightclubs, that were just a magnet for thugs and gun-wielding drug dealers, he fought us every step of the way,” Durbin said. “Finally the misters stood up and supported my suggestion. The city council overruled the mayor. They’re moving in the right direction but they have no police department down there.”
The commission has the authority to set conduct policy and best practice rules for law enforcement. Any police department within the district that fails to adopt and adhere to the rules becomes ineligible for commission funding. The commission will act as a go-between when it comes to federal, state and local grant money and will disburse funding to police departments as it sees fit for the purchase of law enforcement equipment and the hiring of additional police officers
Recent corruption includes the conviction of the former Alorton and East St. Louis police chief and a former Washington Park police detective.
The district will include East Saint Louis, Washington Park, Alorton and Brooklyn. Those sitting on the commission will include a representative of police officers, and appointees by the governor and mayors of communities in the district with city council approval.
The law that creates the commission takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.