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One year in, Ferguson Chief Troy Doyle reflects on the 2014 uprising and his city’s future

Troy Doyle is sworn in as Ferguson’s next Chief of Police on Monday, March 27, 2023, at the Ferguson City Hall Council Chambers. Doyle was notably a former lieutenant colonel with the St. Louis County Police Department and previously sued that department on allegations of racial discrimination.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Troy Doyle is sworn in as Ferguson’s chief of police in May 2023 at Ferguson City Hall. Doyle is a former lieutenant colonel with the St. Louis County Police Department.

After Troy Doyle was sworn in as Ferguson’s chief of police in March 2023, one of the first things he noticed was that many officers saw the 2016 Ferguson Consent Decree as punitive.

Negotiated between the Department of Justice and Ferguson officials in the wake of the uprising, the consent decree focused on addressing Ferguson police and court policies and practices that a 2015 investigation found unconstitutional.

“I had an opportunity to sit down with each squad … and have conversation with the officers, and I will say 85 to 90% of the officers [saw] the consent decree as more of a punishment for the department, which was unfortunate.”

In his first year in the role, Doyle said he’s worked to shift the narrative and share with officers his belief that the consent decree is beneficial.

“Over time, some of the officers started believing in what we're trying to do,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to put us in a position where we're going to have the best policies and procedures — probably in the region.”

Ferguson Police Chief Tory Doyle poses for a portrait on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at St. Louis Public Radio in Grand Center. Doyle spoke on St. Louis on the Air.
Eric Lee
St. Louis Public Radio
Ferguson Police Chief Tory Doyle poses for a portrait on Thursday at St. Louis Public Radio in Grand Center. Doyle spoke on St. Louis on the Air.

The cultural shift within the department has had an effect on recruitment, Doyle added. One year ago, the department was staffed at 49%. Now, it's up to 76-78% staffed, with 58% “minority representation” among its officers.

“I'm talking about Black officers,” he said. “Percentage wise, I imagine I probably have more female officers than most police departments, which is a good thing for us. … One of the things I appreciate, especially with female officers — not that male officers don't do it — but females usually can deescalate things a lot quicker.”

Doyle has also focused on rebuilding trust between officers and the community.

“What I'm hoping to accomplish, or hoping that people see, is that Ferguson is a little bit different,” he said. “We answered 30,000 calls for service last year in the city of Ferguson. Out of those 30,000 calls, less than 1% resulted in the use of force. … That’s something that I'm very proud of.”

Bridging the gap between police and community is one of Doyle’s highest priorities. It’s why he went into law enforcement in 1989 as a young Black man.

“Driving through areas like north county — Jennings, Florissant and Ferguson — you tried to stay away from them because there was a high likelihood that you were going to get stopped. I was one of those individuals. I might have got the trophy for it — I was getting stopped constantly,” he said. “My mindset at that time was: Join the police department and be part of the change.”

Moving forward, Doyle is focused on community engagement and transparency.

“We need to have candid conversations. I think it's extremely important that the community knows exactly what this police department is doing,” he said.

Hear more from Chief Troy Doyle, including his department’s policies on “wanteds” and officer-involved shootings, as well as how much has changed since the Ferguson Uprising nearly 10 years ago, by listening to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or by clicking the play button below.

Ferguson Police Chief Troy Doyle joins "St. Louis on the Air"

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Roshae Hemmings is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.