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The Latest: County prosecutor makes new marijuana policy

January 3, 2019

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest on changes announced by St. Louis County’s new prosecuting attorney (all times local):

7:10 p.m.

St. Louis County’s new prosecuting attorney is shaking up his staff and instituting new policies just two days into the job.

Former Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell defeated 28-year incumbent Bob McCulloch in the August Democratic primary and ran unopposed in November. He was sworn in Tuesday, becoming the first-ever African-American to hold the office.

He wasted no time implementing some of his reformist agenda. Bell’s office says it will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases, among other changes.

McCulloch had a reputation as a hardline law-and-order prosecutor. Bell wants to change the cash bail system, opposes the death penalty and pledged to hold police officers accountable if they step out of line.

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5 p.m.

An official with the union that represents police and assistant prosecutors in St. Louis County is criticizing new St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell for removing three veteran assistant prosecutors.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that one of those facing ouster is Kathi Alizadeh, who presented evidence to the grand jury after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014.

Bell is a former Ferguson councilman who defeated 28-year incumbent Bob McCulloch in the August Democratic primary and ran unopposed in November. He was sworn in Tuesday.

Bell’s spokeswoman Josi Nielsen confirmed staff changes on Wednesday but declined to name those cut.

Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which represents the assistant prosecutors, says the three prosecutors were dismissed “without warning or apparent justification.”

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2 p.m.

St. Louis County’s new prosecuting attorney is shaking up his staff just two days into the new job.

A veteran assistant prosecutor who presented evidence to the grand jury after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson is reportedly among those let go.

Former Ferguson councilman Wesley Bell defeated 28-year incumbent Bob McCulloch in the August Democratic primary and ran unopposed in November. He was sworn in Tuesday.

Bell’s spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that some veteran staff members have been let go. She declined to name them.

But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that among those fired is Kathi Alizadeh, one of McCulloch’s top assistants. Alizadeh told the newspaper that Bell gave her a two-page letter describing grounds from termination.

McCulloch had a reputation as a hardline law-and-order prosecutor. Bell campaigned as someone who would make changes.

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