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Businesses Prod St. Louis-Area Police to Collaborate

After years of meeting resistance in attempts to encourage cooperation between the police departments of St. Louis and St. Louis County, a group of business leaders is making progress, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Under guidance from consultants working for Centene Corp. and other companies, the two departments launched a program in which officers work together in a county precinct, the city of Jennings, and a police district in the city’s northwest corner. Previous efforts to get the departments to work together stalled. This time, the group led by Centene CEO Michael Neidorff is operating through consultants for Teneo, a New York– and London-based firm. In a roundtable discussion Tuesday, Neidorff told U.S. mayors and business leaders that if the St. Louis companies hadn’t become involved, it wouldn’t get done.

Centene is a managed health care giant. Tom Irwin, a Centene executive, said the consultants met with community stakeholders to write recommendations for how each department could improve. The consultants, two former police chiefs from other cities, have worked with city and county police commanders to push for collaboration in high-crime neighborhoods of the city’s north side and in Jennings, a county police precinct. St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmy Edwards said the change came after “we had a couple meetings with business folks led by Michael Neidorff, about how we can do better with respect to criminals that are going back and forth from city to county, and collaborate more as a region.” In the online roundtable, Neidorff cited the city’s high homicide rate and violent deaths of children. He said it was hard for firms to recruit job candidates when they come to town with their families and hear on TV that children are being murdered. “So, we had to do some things,” he said.