6 finalists named in search for St. Louis police chief ahead of - KMOV.com

6 finalists named in search for St. Louis police chief ahead of town hall

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The six finalists for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief. Credit: KMOV The six finalists for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief. Credit: KMOV

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The City of St. Louis hosted a moderated town hall for police chief candidates Thursday night, moments after releasing the names of those candidates to the public.

The finalists include (alphabetical order):

Mary Edwards-Fears currently serves as a Captain commanding Evidence Management and Professional Standards for the City of St. Louis, a position she has held since 2015. She has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from Webster University.

Stephen “Max” Geron currently is a Major serving as the Executive Officer in the Southeast Patrol Division in the Dallas Police Department, a position he has held since September 2016. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from Midwestern State University.He has served as a Major since 2014 and is a 25 year veteran of the Dallas Police Department.

John Hayden currently serves as a Major commanding the North Patrol Division in the City of St. Louis. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Arts in Management from Fontbonne. He is a 30 year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department.

Keith Humphrey currently serves as the Chief of the Norman Police Department, a position he has held since 2011. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from Amberton University. Prior to this position, he served as the Chief of Police of Lancaster, TX from 2008-2011.

Patrick Melvin currently serves as the Chief of Police for Port Arthur, a position he has held since May 2016. He has a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. Prior to this position, he served as the Police Chief for the Salt River Police Department in Arizona from 2011-2016. He also served as the Chief of Police of Maricopa, Arizona from 2006 to 2009.

Lawrence O’Toole currently serves as the Interim Police Chief for the City of St. Louis, a position he has held since April 2017. He has a Bachelor of Science from Southeast Missouri State University and a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University. He has served in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for 33 years.

Watch the town hall event here

During the event, the six finalists for the job answered questions submitted by the public.

The first question, and the one most commonly submitted one, was how do the candidates plan to bridge the divide between the police department and the community. It was a divide evident at the town hall as protestors shouted several times during the event.

Maj. Hayden took the podium first and said as a native St. Louisan, he knows first hand what needs to be down to break down the barriers.

“Healing that broken relationship is going to come one way by spending more quality time with the people we serve,” he said, mentioning his hopes of putting police officials including the chief out into the community more.

Chief Melvin said he’s served as an outsider before and knows that it starts with getting to know the community.

“First off I’m not going to tell you what your problems are, I’m going to hold listening session throughout the city, I want to hear exactly what the issues are,” he said.

Interim Chief O’Toole stood before the crowd and said he wanted to start off by being more transparent.

“Our website is where I’m going to start to put all our orders and policies, publish all the reports we have that we can, regarding discipline so everyone knows what’s going on.”

Several people in the crowd shouted back, asking why he hadn’t already implemented his ideas since taking charge in April. Protesters only shouted and disrupted during his time at the podium.

“We asked for him to be fired, not promoted,” yelled several activists in the auditorium.

Capt. Edwards-Fears is the only female candidate and made it clear she thinks there needs to be more women in the department, and that’s not the only change that needs to happen.

“First thing you’ve got to do is get the community input, we haven’t been as good with that as we should be, but we’re going to get better,” she said.

Chief Humphrey said in addition to putting more police in the community, change also comes with how they communicate as a department.

“If I tell you right now how many homicides or violent cases we have, I’m not telling you anything, but if tell you how these happen and what we’re doing to address that, it makes you feel better and you’re going to want to help us, you’ll want to help us fight that fight,’ he said to cheers from the crowd.

The final answer came from Maj. Geron, who said he took the time to drive through north St. Louis and see firsthand some of the issues.

“If you focus your resources and utilize your technology better you’re going to be more efficient and you’re going to be able to provide officers that time to get out of the cars and work that foot patrol and meet those citizens,” said Geron.

Melvin’s candidacy raised some questions. He was put on administrative leave from his previous job and in his current role he was given a vote of no confidence by the Port Arthur Police Association. Melvin told News 4 the administrative leave happened after he became a finalist for another chief position, and the recent vote of no confidence was a result of those not happy with his direction as chief.

“Change is hard for some people, everyone loves accountability except when they're the ones being held accountable,” he told News 4.

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards is expected to make a final decision by the end of the month. Internal candidates have a slight advantage in the scoring process but if they chose an external candidate it will be the first external hire for chief in the department’s history.

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