Alderwoman Heather Navarro tells the Riverfront Times that she learned from Mayor Lyda Krewson's spokesman the ban is in place "until further notice."
The spokesman, Koran Addo, declined to comment, telling the Riverfront Times it was a "personnel" matter, a line echoed by the police department when we reached out to them.
The security firm is owned by Sgt. Brian Rossomanno, a SWAT supervisor known to protesters as "Riot King." He was the subject of a Riverfront Times cover story last month.
Rossomanno founded 0311 Tactical Solutions in 2010. The company, whose name references the Marine code for rifleman, lists gigs with A-B InBev, the Muny and the St. Louis Cardinals, providing a "Quick Reaction Force" for games at Busch Stadium.
The company previously also bragged on its site about training St. Louis officers, although it acknowledged it had no contract to do so. In early October, a police spokeswoman told the RFT that 0311 Tactical had no affiliation with the department.
It's not clear how many city officers work for the company. Founding papers filed with the Secretary of State list Rossomanno and Michael Deeba, a police captain who commands the department's intelligence unit, as one of the organizers. Rossomanno and the city have refused to reveal the number of other officers on the firm's payroll.
The timing of the ban is interesting. It comes as Mayor Krewson tries to gather support for Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax that would raise $19 million — $13 million for police pay raises and benefits. The measure, set to be voted on November 7, has been a prime target of protesters following the September 15 acquittal of a white ex-cop charged with murdering a black man suspected of dealing drugs.
Activists have cast Prop P as a referendum on the police department, citing the heavy-handed tactics of riot cops during demonstrations as an example of an out-of-control department. They recently chanted "fuck Prop P" outside the mayor's house in the Central West End. The mayor, however, says that better policing can only come from better salaries.
Officers have made more than 300 arrests during the ongoing protests, repeatedly using tear gas, mace and pepper ball projectiles on crowds. Demonstrators have reported being beaten during the arrests. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and a husband-and-wife documentary film crew have both sued the city for what they have described as an abusive response by police.
Rossomanno was called to testify last month during a hearing in the ACLU case. Along with questions about police tactics, an ACLU attorney questioned the sergeant about 0311 Tactical — specifically a Facebook post on the company's site that showed a livestreamer's photo of Rossomanno in which the sergeant had included #riotking and #protestseason.
"It was just kind of a tongue-in-cheek reference to the false narrative that I control everything at the protests," Rossomanno testified.
🤔— Heather ♿📷📱🔭 (@MissJupiter1957) September 26, 2017
Usually Sgt Rossomanno hates how my photos make him look, but I guess he liked this 1 enough to steal it for a now deleted Facebook post. pic.twitter.com/O6cmhrd4sB
Alderwoman Navarro, who first revealed the ban last night in a Facebook post about Prop P, says she has a number of follow-up questions she plans to ask the mayor about the directive, including when it went into effect and what is meant by "until further notice."
She is supporting Prop P, which she says will help the city recruit and better train top officers.
"I feel like we need a better police department and competitive pay is part of that," Navarro says, adding that a recently approved pay raise in the county has forced the city's hand.
The RFT has reached 0311 Tactical and Rossomanno for comment. We'll update this story if we hear back.
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