Uplands Park accused of hiring unlicensed officers

10:39 PM, Dec 8, 2010   |    comments
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By Ann Rubin

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- They had badges and uniforms. But now two men are facing charges for acting as police officers in Uplands Park without the proper licenses.

According to the charges, the two men knew they did not have the proper paperwork yet took the jobs anyway.  One of those men is at the center of a high profile wrongful death lawsuit.

It's been a year since the accident that claimed the life of Lashanna Snipes.  Her car was struck by a driver fleeing the Uplands Park Police Department.

But now in a new development, the officer behind the wheel during that fatal pursuit may not have been an officer at all.

Lamont Aikens has been charged with holding the job without the proper licenses to do so.  A second Uplands Park officer, Kenneth Minner, faces the same charge.

And the acting chief at the time, Henry Smith, is accused of allowing it to happen.

"The village is in the process of conducting its own inquiry," said village attorney Douglas Rudman.

However, Rudman said the department records may contradict the charges. He believes Lamont Aikens was considered an auxiliary officer and was always supervised by a commissioned officer, even at the time of the pursuit.

Since then, he said the village policy has changed though, eliminating auxiliary officers altogether.

"It is the village's policy that only certified police officers are actually members of the police force," Rudman said.

All three men still work for Uplands Park.  Henry Smith is no longer chief; he's a lieutenant on medical leave.  Minner is a code enforcement officer.  And Aikens has been reclassified as a bailiff though he is on administrative leave.

Still, for residents the damage may be done. They say charges like these shake their confidence in the people who are supposed to protect and serve.

"The way they do things is just messed up," said resident Kent Davis.

The village trustees will meet Monday to decide what action needs to be taken.  The charges in this case are all misdemeanors.



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