ST. LOUIS — Roger Goldman, a longtime St. Louis University law professor and nationally known advocate for tougher police licensing laws, died Saturday at Evelyn’s House, a hospice in Creve Coeur, after a long illness. He was 82.
Goldman was known for his research on dismissed officers who are later hired by other police departments and his efforts to pass or strengthen state laws aimed at limiting such moves.
An early victory was in 1988 when he and others worked to get the Missouri Legislature to allow the state to revoke the certification of officers who have committed crimes or are otherwise deemed unfit to serve.
He followed that up with successful efforts in Illinois, Indiana and various other states over the years.
Goldman first got interested in the subject in 1980 when he noticed a Post-Dispatch article on a police officer in the now-defunct town of Bridgeton Terrace who shot and killed a man breaking into his car.
Three years earlier, Maplewood had fired the officer after allegations that he treated prisoners brutally and lied to a grand jury.
Goldman began researching, and in 1987, he and a SLU political science professor wrote a law journal article examining the issue nationally and concluding that revoking certification was one of the few effective means of removing unfit officers from the profession.
That spurred his efforts to change laws here and elsewhere.
“He wasn’t satisfied with just writing the seminal law review article,” said Michael Wolff, a former SLU law school dean and Missouri Supreme Court chief justice. “He pushed the idea forward by getting legislation passed.”
Goldman also has been an advocate for strengthening a national database of decertified officers maintained by a nonprofit group, a proposal endorsed by a presidential commission several years ago.
In a 2021 article on the issue for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, he was quoted as saying: “My work is not anti-cop. It’s pro-good cop.”
Goldman, who grew up in Richmond Heights, graduated from John Burroughs School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
He was a law professor at SLU from 1971 to 2014, when he took emeritus status. Wolff said he taught classes in constitutional law, civil rights and civil procedures.
He was named teacher of the year three times and served twice as associate dean and once as interim dean.
Goldman, of University City, was president of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri from 1974 to 1976. He also was a founder and the first president of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, where a funeral service for Goldman was held Tuesday. The burial was private.
Among the survivors are his wife, Stephanie Riven; two sons, Josh Goldman of Clayton and Sam Goldman of San Francisco; a brother, Tom Goldman of Mill Valley, California, and two grandchildren.