Conflict questions raised about prosecutors’ vote to join police union

- Conflict questions raised about prosecutors’ vote to join police union


Assistant prosecutors and investigators in St. Louis County have voted to join the police union in advance of a reform-minded leader taking the helm.

The Monday vote is raising questions about possible conflicts of interest, report the Associated Press and the St. Louis American. Columnists for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Washington Post also raised concerns in columns written before the vote.

The new St. Louis County prosecutor, Wesley Bell, is the first African-American to be in the position. He replaces Robert McCulloch, who headed the office when grand jurors declined to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. The grand jury decision sparked violence in Ferguson and nationwide protests.

Bell has opposed the death penalty, backed treatment instead of jail for people accused of minor drug crimes, pledged to reform the cash bail system, and promised to set up a unit to review wrongful convictions. He also has pledged to hold police officers accountable for wrongful acts.

The union—the St. Louis Police Officers Association—had donated to McCulloch’s campaigns during his 28 years in office. Washington Post columnist Radley Balko described the union as “one of the most aggressive police unions in the country.”

The union’s controversial business manager, Jeff Roorda, was criticized when he wrote a Facebook post linking the murder of five Dallas police officers to President Barack Obama. He also wrote a book entitled Ferghanistan: The War on Police and told the Daily Beast that the Ferguson protests were “an all-out war on police officers.”

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The Washington Post gave an example of potential conflicts that could happen as a result of the union representation. “What happens if a prosecutor charges a police officer for a shooting, and the officer then files a complaint against that prosecutor?” the column asks. “Which party does the union defend?”

The Post also predicts that the union vote “will only further poison the relationship between law enforcement and the city’s communities of color. … Having the same union represent both cops and prosecutors certainly won’t help with the public perception—particularly in the black community—that St. Louis prosecutors will always back the cops.”

Bell issued this statement: “As a union member, I support and welcome the assistant prosecutors’ right to organize. The choice of the police union raises some questions, though we will work in good faith to minimize any cost to taxpayers or conflicts with the police union that this could represent.”

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Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is president and managing partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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