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Monday, November 2, 2020

Police Union Uses SLMPD Email to Endorse Trump, Parson

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2020 at 2:23 PM

click to enlarge DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • DANNY WICENTOWSKI

In the St. Louis political election system, the people are represented by their lawn signs and bumper stickers. The police are (mostly) represented by its largest union, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association — and that organization would very much like its members to vote Donald Trump for president.

That much is clear from a mass email that arrived in the department inboxes of 165 officers on October 31. The email listed Trump at the top of the association's endorsements for Tuesday's general election.



"The coming days are fraught with peril for our community, and its public servants," the email warned. "Please be careful, stick together, and watch each others' sixes."

A copy of the email, obtained by RFT, shows it was sent by officer Mike Herzberg, a veteran homicide detective and union representative. However, the fact that Herzberg used his official department email account, (which ends @slmpd.org) could be a violation of the department's policies on several fronts, including its rule against the "promotion of political or religious positions" through its email service.

Along with Trump, the SLPOA endorsed a nearly straight ticket of Republicans, including Mike Parson for governor, Eric Schmitt for state attorney general, and Daniel Zdrodowski for St. Louis Circuit Attorney.

Two Democrats who made the endorsement list. One is incumbent Missouri House District 81 representative Steve Butz, who is running unopposed. The other is Bob Burns, who is hoping to remake his political career in the St. Louis County Council two years after his fellow Democrats kicked him out of the party's caucus over his "frequent call-ins" and support for racist shock jock Bob Romanik's now-canceled radio show.

More curious, however, is the email's endorsement of a "no" vote on Proposition D, which seeks to implant a non-partisan election system in St. Louis, a change that would mean the top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party, would go head-to-head in the general election.

In the SLPOA email, below the endorsements for Trump and other Republicans, the association urged its members: "Please vote NO on Prop D, and encourage your family members and neighbors to do so as well. Prop D = Defunding the Police Department."

It's not clear what argument lies behind the SLPOA conflation between Prop D, which does not affect police budgets, and efforts to "defund the police." The email did not elaborate on the opposition to Prop D, and a search of recent SLPOA activity on Facebook and Twitter show no similar posts or slogans.

There is one place where the "Prop D = Defund Police" slogan does exist outside of the endorsement email: On a banner outside the SLPOA headquarters.

The banner was spotted over the weekend by Missouri Representative Rasheen Aldridge, who called the information "lies."

Perhaps, the association simply prefers announcing its election opinions in out-of-the-way places. But using the department's email system shouldn't be one of them, according to the Ethical Society of Police, which represents and advocates for the city's Black officers.

"SLMPD email should never be used in this manner," the group said in a statement posted to Facebook and Twitter this morning. The statement noted that the two police associations "have mutual members."

The statement continued, "Many of those members have stated they felt pressured to vote a certain way and disrespected by the blanket email sent to their department email addresses."

In response to a request for comment on the SLPOA endorsement list and whether it breaks any department rules, Evita Caldwell, an SLMPD spokeswoman, wrote, "Our Internal Affairs Division is aware and is conducting an internal inquiry relative to this matter."

click to enlarge DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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