The Founding of Des Peres
Although the area known as Des Peres has been inhabited since the 1700s, the area was not incorporated as a village until 1934 in response to rumored plans for annexation of the area by the City of Kirkwood.
At the time, Des Peres was a largely rural area whose residents and businesses feared the high taxes of "the big city." The local press at the time suggested that incorporation was an attempt to protect Des Peres' three roadhouses that wished to offer liquor by the drink with the repeal of prohibition.
Outgrowing the Village
By 1953, Des Peres' population had outgrown its status as a village and residents approved a change in status to a Fourth-class city to provide broader taxing authority to support the demand for city services. While its population has grown to allow a further change in status under state law, Des Peres has retained its Fourth-class status and has not pursued options to seek a change to third class or charter status.
Current Form of Government
As government has grown more complicated and demanding, Des Peres has adopted the City Administrator form of government providing for employment of a fulltime professional to assist the mayor and Board of Aldermen in the day to day management of City affairs. Since 1973, five individuals have held the office of city administrator. Douglas J. Harms has been Des Peres City Administrator since 1985. He is assisted in that effort by Scott A. Schaefer, the Assistant City Administrator.
Department of Public Safety
The Des Peres Department of Public Safety is unique in the metropolitan area as the only integrated public safety operation providing police, fire, and emergency medical services. Des Peres is only one of a handful of similar operations in the State of Missouri. Under public safety, each commissioned officer is fully trained and legally qualified to serve in the capacity of a police officer, a firefighter, and either an EMT or paramedic.
Des Peres' unique approach not only trains and certifies officers in all three professions but also utilizes each officer on a daily basis in each area of expertise. This provides an immediate response to every emergency situation with a qualified officer to assess the needs of a given emergency.
Since the police are oftentimes the first on any emergency scene, this provides an immediate response with an individual to assess emergency medical conditions, and provide an early assessment of manpower and equipment needs in response to fire demands.