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Krewson Voices Support For Public Safety Leaders Despite Turmoil In Police Department

Chief John Hayden said police believed the rash of killings over the weekend  to be drug related in a press conference on Monday.
File photo | Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Mayor Lyda Krewson says she continues to have confidence in the leadership of the St. Louis police department despite seven officers being charged with felonies in two months.

“I think about it in this way, which is that those issues are being addressed,” Krewson said during a news conference Thursday. “While of course I hate that officers have been indicted, I certainly think that if that is the situation, then that is the result.”

Krewson’s remarks were her first since one officer killed another last month. Authorities say Nathaniel Hendren, 29, was on duty — but out of his assigned patrol area — when he shot 24-year-old Katlyn Alix in the chest during a Russian roulette-style game. Alix, who was off duty, had gone to Hendren’s apartment — and Hendren’s partner, who was on duty, was also at the apartment. Hendren has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.

“The decisions that were made by those officers that day were clearly very disturbing, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening with all our officers every day,” Krewson said.

New health director

Krewson on Thursday also announced that for the first time in 12 years, a medical doctor will lead St. Louis’ health department.

Fredrick Echols will take over as director on Feb. 19. He is currently director of Communicable Disease, Vector and Veterinary Programs for the St. Louis County health department.

Echols got his undergraduate degree from Clark Atlanta University and went to medical school at Boston University. Before he came to St. Louis, Echols, a Navy veteran, was the chief of communicable diseases for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The city’s charter requires the health director be a physician or have a master’s degree in public health. But Echols’ qualifications go beyond his credentials, Krewson said.

“He’s someone with a proven background in practicing medicine, has expertise in public health and a large amount of management experience and expertise,” she said.

Echols will be paid about $152,000. He replaces acting director Jeanine Arrighi, who took over the post in July 2018 when Melba Moore took a job in Cincinnati.

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.