According to Police Chief Steve Lewis, who has over 31 years of experience in law enforcement and is active in multiple policing boards in the St. Louis area, the creation of the foundation was inspired by the city’s police department citing additional purchases that could aid the officers and officials in the department and that could be made possible through additional funding.
Lewis said the main goal of the foundation would be to meet the needs of the department’s police officers.
Through voluntary participation, businesses or individuals interested in the foundation will be able to donate funds, via different sponsorship levels, with 100 percent of the funds benefitting the officers. Also, no foundation funds will be used to purchase items already included in the city’s budget.
“… This is not because we’re not receiving funding from the city for budget items,” Lewis said. “The city provides for our police department. Everything [we] need to do our police services; the city provides us 100 percent. This is just ‘in addition to.’ This is something that, if people want to show their support for law enforcement, this is a methodology for [doing that].”
Some items that foundation funds could go toward include exercise equipment for the police training facility, backup weapons, personal trauma kits, active shooter training equipment and alternative vehicles. Additionally, the foundation would provide financial aid in the event of injury to an officer.
The board of the foundation will consist of five members, with the police chief serving as chairman for the length of his or her employment.
To start, three board members will be appointed by the city council, each to serve a one-year term. Beginning in the foundation’s second year, three of the board members will come from donors from the previous year. The owner or manager of a business that donates to the foundation is eligible to serve based on the business’ contribution. Board members then will serve a two-year term starting on Jan. 1, 2019 and so on.
Two of the board positions will be offered to the two largest donors. If one or neither person is interested, then the next largest donor will be offered the position until both two-year terms are filled.
The ordinance’s original language had the fourth position being solicited from the general membership of donating businesses and citizens by the city manager. However, after some discussion at the meeting, Councilmember Vince McGrath [District 1] proposed an amendment to see the elimination of a city manager’s pick of a board member and instead requested that the responsibility should be brought back to the city council.
“My thoughts on this are that we should keep our city manager out of the politics of picking people for boards,” McGrath said. The amendment passed unanimously.
Finally, the fifth board member can be a non-donor, but must still be a resident of Ellisville. The selected person will serve a three-year term and be selected by the city council.
In addition to supervision by Lewis, who has never been involved with or affiliated with any previous ethics violations, another safeguard for the foundation would be the involvement of the city council.
“Our council is very integrated into the community, and I would hope that if there would be any improprieties of any nature, that the council and their constituents would to them and say, “We have an issue,” and that would come back to us,” Lewis said.
Board meetings for the foundation will be open to the public. They can be called any time at the discretion of the serving police chief. However, they must occur every six months. Four members will constitute a quorum, and any action or expenditure must be approved with a majority vote.
As amended, the motion to create the Ellisville Police Foundation passed unanimously after its first and second reading at the council’s Dec. 5 meeting.