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The Clayton Board of Aldermen has approved a contract with 21st Century Policing Solutions (21CPS) to study the relationships between the city, its police department and the community, and to make suggestions on how those relationships can be improved.

The board approved the contract at its Oct. 9 meeting. City Manager Craig Owens said that 21CPS staff would be onsite in Clayton in approximately two weeks. The process is expected to last six months, but may take up to a year. The budget for the study may be amended depending on the total length of the project, but is not to exceed $158,550 plus expenses.

“This is something that we have been working on for some time. It is something that we are doing to try to make things better,” said Mayor Harold Sanger.

The contract stems from a July 7 incident in which police were called after a “dine and dash” at IHOP, 8049 Clayton Road. Police came across a group of African-American young men in the area who met the description of the suspects. After showing officers their IHOP receipts, officers led the group back to the restaurant where employees confirmed they were not the suspects. Police then released the men, some of whom were Washington University students. The university released a statement shortly after the incident requesting an apology from police.

Soon thereafter, the city asked 21CPS to look at the specifics of what happened. One of their findings touched on police cameras.

On Sept. 29, Sanger issued a public letter that stated, in part, that “21CPS has reviewed the department policies and advised us of the benefits that body worn cameras would have brought to this situation as well as any other situation where there may be questions about interaction between the public and the police.

“These cameras, while not the panacea for everything, give an objective perspective of the tenor of police/community interactions, and often serve as good training and educational tools when used in a scenario based training environment,” Sanger stated.

Clayton applied for police body cameras in 2017 and the Clayton Police Department will be implementing a body worn camera program next year.

The complete letter is posted on the city’s website at www.claytonmo.gov.