ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – St. Louis City and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are at odds over millions of dollars that could be spent on public safety.
Mayor Tishaura Jones and Schmitt differ on how $5.5 million from a settlement should be used. The city owed the state the money in a settlement for the wrongful conviction of George Allen in 1982, the bill was due in September but Schmitt said the city could keep the money if it was used to hire more police officers by the end of the fiscal year.
Allen was sentenced to life in prison for killing a woman near Soulard. A judge threw out that conviction because the state failed to disclose some evidence. Allen died in 2016. Then, his family sued the state over the wrongful conviction and won. While the state paid the lawsuit, the City of St. Louis would still have to pay back the state a sum of $5.5 million.
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Monday, Jones and city responded with a three pronged approach on how to use the money towards public safety that did not include hiring new officers. She wants Schmitt to let St. Louis use the money for the purpose of creating more hiring incentives for 911 dispatchers, creating more incentives for first responders to opt in and receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and improving mental health resources for officers. Jones says she hopes to work with Schmitt to use money effectively.
“We also requested the option to spend these funds over many years to invest in the wellbeing of our first responders, not just the remaining seven months of the budget year. These solutions not only fall within the parameters of the Attorney General’s request, they would help keep us safer,” Jones said.
Schmitt’s office said there have had no negations with the city to change how the money should be allocated. His office released the following statement:
“Based on a Supreme Court ruling this summer, the City of St. Louis owes us millions of dollars for past legal work. Out of respect for the men and women of law enforcement and our deep commitment to the City of St. Louis, we graciously offered to put this money towards hiring more officers on the ground to patrol the city and fight violent crime. It’s sad that the mayor has made this a political issue and that hiring more police officers doesn’t fit the agenda of the mayor of the murder capital of the United States. We’re going to keep fighting for the safety of all 6 million Missourians.”
Schmitt’s office says it is currently unclear whether or not the city will still owe the money if it is not used to hire more officers.
“I’m hoping he’s serious about getting our first responders the support they need. I hope he’s serious about helping us fix our broken 911 system, and I hope that he’s serious about helping get more police and firefighters vaccinated and protected against COVID-19,” said Jones.
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