CHIEF MOKWA: INNOCENT VICTIM OR GUILTY .. OF WHAT?
Chief Joseph J. Mokwa ends a 37 year career with the St. Louis Police Department.
He started as a rookie on the streets in February 1971 ... and rose through the ranks to Chief of Police on May 11, 2001.
Now, it's all over. Chief Mokwa is ... retiring.
Why? Well, there are several layers that need to be peeled away to get to the real answer.
Chief Mokwa is the center focus of a federal investigation that his daughter and an unknown number of police officers were allowed to take cars from police impound custody ... in some cases buying them at below market value.
Chief Mokwa insist he did nothing wrong. He does admit a mistake in judgement in how he handle things when he says that he first learned that his daughter had used and/or bought some of the cars.
Some speculate that there is evidence that Chief Mokwa did commit more ... than that singular mistake.
There's speculation that there's more to Chief Mokwa's relationship between the private towing company that handled the impounded cars. If so, that doesn't necessarily mean anything ... criminal. The Police Board had the law firm of Armstrong, Teasdale do an investigation, and it found nothing illegal.
So, was there a relationship that was ... "too cozy" ... and the perception itself is damaging?
Either way .. all of this was the first of many nails into Chief Joe Mokwa's coffin.
Now, the Police Board asked the U.S. Attorney's office to conduct an investigation, and we wait to see if that final report differs from what the law firm found.
That's the legal layer of the pressure that's been on Chief Mokwa.
There's also the political layer.
From the beginning, Mayor Slay offered no real support ... in fact, statements from his Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford questioned Mokwa's credibility.
Mayor Slay in yesterday's blog said that Mokwa's problems were going to distract from the department's mission. Mayor Slay suggested that Mokwa:
"simply retire" .. and he added .. "we have to make a change". Mayor Slay stated those same remarks at a news conference late this afternoon.
Those were more nails in Chief Mokwa's coffin.
All of this was against Mokwa .... plus he has been under attack by members of the Police Union even a vote of no confidence at one time ... and several members of the community have been attacking the Chief.
Again, more nails.
All of this would make it appear that Joe Mokwa was persona non grata ... an outcast ... no one to be trusted, respected, admired ... but ... he does have support in the community.
Read the comments on my last blog ... CHIEF MOKWA : FATHER.
You will find the majority of comments backing the Chief.
Several comments criticized the news media for attacking him ... even accusing us of trying to bring him down.
I'll be interested in your remarks after reading this blog and those other comments.
A final note: Police Board President Chris Goodson says that Mokwa actually made his decision to retire ... 2 days ago.