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Source Of St. Louis Police Chief’s Salary Raises Questions

Robert Tracy’s appointment as St. Louis’ police chief came with a sweetener: In addition to a $175,000 annual salary from the city, a nonprofit organization made up of local business leaders pays him $100,000 a year more, ProRebublica reports. The arrangement raised some questions at the time about whether the St. Louis Police Foundation’s money would influence Tracy’s approach to policing in a city with one of the nation’s highest rates of violent crime. Thirteen months after Tracy took charge, those questions remain largely unanswered. Megan Green, president of the board of aldermen and the city’s second-highest ranking official, said that while Tracy is generally responsive to the board, aldermen need more information about the financial relationship between the foundation and the Police Department and will now ask for it.

“I think we don’t know the exact extent to which he collaborates with the foundation or they have his ears,” Green said. “The public deserves to understand exactly, even beyond salary, how much money the police foundation is investing in the Police Department.” Sharon Tyus, a longtime alderwoman who represents some north side neighborhoods most affected by crime, questioned whether Tracy’s arrangement with the foundation is legal. “Who else can pay the chief?” she asked. “Can the criminals get together and pay the chief?” Since it was founded in 2007, the foundation has given the Police Department at least $20 million in support, including both cash donations and in-kind gifts of training, weapons, protective gear and technology. But until Tracy’s hiring, it had never paid a public official; the deal with Tracy, policing experts say, is unheard of for a U.S. police chief.


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