Campaigning as Chief? Law allows it, but some aldermen say it is - KMOV.com

Campaigning as Chief? Law allows it, but some aldermen say it isn't right

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Chief Sam Dotson (Credit: KMOV) Chief Sam Dotson (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Some aldermen are calling St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson's run for mayor inappropriate and wrong.

The Chief announced during the first week of October that he'd be running for mayor and keeping his day job.

The law allows him to do that. The law passed in 2013 and states Chief Sam Dotson can run for mayor and keep his job as Chief of Police.

Prior to the law being passed, a police officer wouldn't have been allowed to run. Even though it's legal, some aldermen say that doesn't make it right.

“It's just really, really inappropriate,” said Alderman Joe Roddy.

Roddy says there's no way Dotson can do his job and run for mayor.

“It's like a sitting general wanting to run for president,” said Roddy.

Mayor Slay agrees. After Dotson made the announcement, Slay sent out a statement saying that he expected Dotson to resign.

But Dotson told News 4, ”I have no plans to step down as Chief of Police.”

He says he will campaign only on his time off.

“Early mornings, late nights. I am going to make sure we address crime in the same way that we have,” Dotson said.

There’s a political stalemate of sorts that isn't sitting well with some city leaders.

“It's important for this entire city that we have a chief focused on public safety,” said Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed.  

Reed, himself a candidate for mayor, wants to see the chief demoted. But he says it’s not because Dotson is running, but because of Dotson’s record as chief.

”When his focus was 100 percent focused on crime in our city, we've seen murders increase every year under his leadership, so if he is working 40-50 percent of the time, that would be a problem,” Reed said.

Crimes against people, including murders, have ticked up since 2014. But total crime under Chief Dotson is down.

Reporter Lauren Trager asked Reed if getting Dotson out, would it help him in the race.

“It really doesn't impact us at all, whether he's in or out,” Reed said.

The law says to fire or demote Dotson would require a vote of the Board of Aldermen. Roddy says they're researching the laws and plan to at least propose a resolution to send a message to Dotson that they think he should hang up his chief's hat, if he wants the city's top spot.

“I think it's hard to be real judgmental on him, given the circumstances we find ourselves, but given those circumstances, those are all the more reasons he shouldn't be running,” said Roddy.

Dotson called News 4 on October 11, making it clear, he was off so that's why he called about the campaign during business hours. He says calls for him to step down are just political talking points from his opponents.

Dotson says he wants to be focused on his job as police chief, which he defends, and on the issues he'd face as mayor.   

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