Search for St. Louis police chief enters final stages
Candidates interested in being the chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have until Thursday to submit their applications for the job.
The city has been looking for a chief for the last six months after Sam Dotson's resignation. Phone interviews with qualified candidates are set to start in early November, with final interviews intended for mid-December. City officials hope to have a new chief selected by the end of the year.
“How can we expect the men and women in our police department to continue to go to work every day with this interim over their heads?” asked St. Louis Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards, the city’s newly-appointed public safety director. “The morale has to be low, but we expect them to go out every single day to serve and protect.”
Once he is sworn into his new role on Nov. 6, Edwards will oversee the police department — and will have the authority to hire the new chief. But David Dwight, the communications director at Forward Through Ferguson and the co-chair of a committee advising the search process, said committee members will make sure the finalists have the qualifications residents want.
“We want to make sure that they’re serious about accountability to communities, that they’re thinking about de-escalation and use-of-force, that they want this guardianship mentality rather than a warrior mentality,” Dwight said.
The advisory committee helped write the questions for the initial telephone interviews, Dwight said. Committee members will help select the panels that will interview the finalists, as well as set up community forums.
“Community members will have the opportunity to see these candidates, interact with them, ask them questions,” he said.
While the search marks the first time that the department has been able to look for a new chief nationally, internal candidates can still apply, including interim Chief Lawrence O’Toole.
Protesters like Darryl Gray who are calling for more police accountability are also are demanding that O'Toole resign or be fired.
“We have an absentee police chief,” Gray said at a meeting of the citizen’s advisory committee on Tuesday night. “We haven't heard him say anything about Milton Green being shot. We have not heard a thing from the police chief about an undercover cop getting his butt beat. We need a police chief who is going to stand up for what is right, and tell the truth. The only reason I can think of that O’Toole is not saying anything and being forthright, is because he’s part of the problem and not part of the solution.”
Green, a black officer with the department, was off-duty when he was shot in the arm by a white officer responding to a call. The undercover officer, who is also black, was injured when he was arrested during a protest in September.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann