This story was originally published by ProPublica.
Hours after a burglary at a designer jeans store in St. Louis’ upscale Central West End, at least 16 city police officers received an email alert with surveillance photos of the car believed to be the suspects’ — and an offer a reward of at least $1,000 for any officer who can find it.
The email was not from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the police force that employs them and that residents fund through their taxes. Instead, it came from a retired City Police officer named Charles “Rob” Betts, who also employs her at his private company, The City’s Finest.
The City’s Finest is not just a security company. With about 200 officers doing undeclared work, it is the largest of several private police companies that some of St. Louis’ more affluent and mostly white neighborhoods have hired to patrol public spaces and protect their homes and…