Nixon Stumps for Rep. Jeff Roorda, the Ex-Cop Speaking Out Against Police Body Cameras

Share on Nextdoor

Page 2 of 2

See also: St. Louis Police Chief Spars with Aldermen Over Use of Deadly Force

Roorda admited that he sees potential in body cameras as a way of exonerating officers who are falsely accused of misdeeds in the field. However, the example he chose support his point was the shooting of Kajime Powell, whose death was filmed by a bystander with a cellphone, not by a police-issued dashboard camera.

In any case, Roorda sees the push for body cameras as a way of harassing officers who commit minor infractions, like rolling a stop sign or not buckling their seat belt. He opposes the use of body cameras for the same reason.

"Our experience with the dashboard cameras has been that they haven't been used to find out the material facts of the situation. They've been used to pile petty discipline on our officers," he said.

But what really bothers Roorda is that all this money could be put to better use. Instead of body cameras, he suggested using the funds to raise officer salaries and upgrading or replacing existing police equipment.

"Our guys make $9,000 less than the average in the St. Louis region. We just went through collective bargaining where they told us they didn't have the money to bring us up to the average salary, yet they have two-million dollars to spend on body cameras? We've got police cars that have 150,000 miles on them, have the wheels falling off. We have guns that are out of production and you can't buy parts for anymore."

Though Roorda is, by all accounts, a friend to the police, his own history as a cop isn't all that flattering. He spent eleven years as a police officer in Arnold before the department terminated him 2001. According to court filings from a later appeal, Roorda was accused in 1997 of trying to cover for another officer by filing a report containing false statements about a suspect's apprehension and arrest. That incident earned him a reprimand.

Four years later the department fired him after a dispute with his police chief over paternity leave grew heated. Roorda claimed that the chief verbally intimated him, but an audio recording proved that this claim, too, was a "false report."

Roorda went on to become Chief of Police for Kimmswick, a tiny city in Jefferson County with a current population listed at 157. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2004. Now, he's got his eye on the Senate.

See also: 6 Times White and Black People in St. Louis County Had Opposite Opinions on Ferguson

A small number of demonstrators showed up to crash the campaign rally. Local activist Stephen Houldsworth told Daily RFT that he came to peacefully protest Nixon's decision not to appoint a special prosecutor to the Darren Wilson investigation.

Houldsworth said he and five other protesters were holding signs and engaging in discussion with other attendees when campaign organizers and the property owner confronted the group. The other five protesters were eventually kicked out, but Houldsworth played nice, thinking that he would be able to ask Nixon about Ferguson.

But Houldsworth wasn't given any oppurtunity to ask Nixon questions. The governor's handlers informed Daily RFT that there was no time for questions from the press, either.

Instead, we asked Roorda what he would say to people who lost faith in police after witnessing the events in Ferguson. He insisted that officers act in the best interest of people's safety, and that it was wrong to burden cops with constant second-guessing.

"Our guys do things the right way, and when they make a mistake, they make a mistake because they're defending the lives and property of the people of St Louis," he said. "I think the record of law enforcement in this county is that we performed wonderfully in incredibly challenging circumstances."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

Scroll to read more St. Louis Metro News articles (1)

Newsletters

Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.