Judge Scorches St. Louis Police Board

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A federal judge blasted the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, for “a widespread persistent pattern of unconstitutional conduct” by officers, to which the board is “deliberately indifferent.”
     “The court finds that plaintiff has submitted evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that there is a widespread persistent pattern of unconstitutional conduct, that defendant commissioners are deliberately indifferent to or have tacitly approved such conduct, and that she sustained injury as a result.,” U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson wrote.
     Jackson’s comments come as the board’s future is in doubt. Voters on Nov. 6 will determine whether to dissolve the board, which has operated the police department since the Civil War era.
     Jackson rejected the police board’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a teen-ager, who claims she was arrested for dating a lieutenant’s son.
     The rebuke comes about 4 years after another federal judge, E. Richard Webber, used similar language against the board.
     In the present case, plaintiff S.L. sued the police board, Lt. Henrietta Arnold and others in 2010. S.L. claimed Arnold and Officer Susie Lorthridge arrested her after they caught her in Arnold’s son’s bedroom in the middle of the day on July 3, 2010.
     Arnold’s house is outside of St. Louis city limits, but S.L. claims Lorthridge falsified a police report, using a nearby address within city limits and fabricating a witness.
     S.L. “cites 23 instances of false reporting in the five-year period before her arrest in which SLMPD officers were found to have submitted false reports to conceal unlawful conduct, including planting evidence, committing perjury, drug dealing, accepting bribes and falsifying information in search warrants,” Judge Jackson wrote.
     The board has four members, appointed by the governor and the St. Louis mayor.
     If voters decide to dissolve the board, the police department will become a city agency under the mayor.

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