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St. Louis Mayor Jones Starting New Search for Police Chief

Updated: Jan 10

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones says the city’s search for a new police chief needs to be rebooted. “We’re going to start over,” Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing the need for a more open process. “I think the public deserves that.” Police Chief John Hayden will retire Feb. 23 after four years leading the region’s largest police department. Jones said she’s been dissatisfied with the process of finding finalists to replace him, led by the city’s personnel department, which is not directly answerable to the mayor. Hayden said he would stay on longer than planned, if needed, to make for a smooth transition. “I’m not going to leave the city hanging,” Hayden said. “I don’t have any immediate plans after retirement. I was hoping just to put the phone down for a while after having been on 24-hour-a-day call for probably better than 20 years or so.” The personnel department was asked to narrow the pool of candidates to six finalists. The city’s public safety director, a member of Jones’ cabinet, is supposed to pick from those six. Former St. Louis police Chief Daniel Isom holds that role today. In November, the personnel department sent rejection letters to most of about 30 applicants for the job and gave a written test to two internal candidates: Assistant Chief Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole and Commander of Community policing Lt. Col. Michael Sack. The two internal candidates who have been tested are both white men with long careers in leadership with the department. Jones has emphasized the need for diversity in the candidate pool. Jones said qualified applicants have been rejected and neither she nor the public understand how finalists were chosen.

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