Community reacts positively as Hayden named new St. Louis Police -


Community reacts positively as Hayden named new St. Louis Police Chief

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John Hayden (Credit: Police) John Hayden (Credit: Police)

ST. LOUIS ( –  John Hayden has been named St. Louis’ newest police chief.

John Hayden, 55, served 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.

According to city officials, during the interview process, Hayden said he was committed to community policing and envisioned a police department that is accountable to city residents. He also said he wants the department to work hand-in-hand with citizens to combat crime.

“I know how our agency functions from the executive level. I know the importance of ethical decision-making and maintaining the highest level of integrity from the top down,” Hayden said. “Our agency needs to make certain that we are providing culturally-sensitive officers with the training and tactics to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the citizens in our community.”

Hayden will be making $153,000 a year, an increase of $63,000 over what he was making as the Commander of North Patrol. That salary is $24,000 more than former chief Sam Dotson made, though it puts Hayden much closer in line to other chiefs like St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who makes $152,000 annually.

Chief Hayden faces a number of challenges, committing to tackle violent crime, which has spiked this year. Murder totals topped 200 in 2017 and aggravated assaults were up as well.

"I pledge to do everything in my power to fulfill your and the citizen's expectation," he said.  

Citizens who know him expressed confidence in his appointment. 

"I have seen him in the neighborhood, on different occasions and think he's going to be an excellent chief," said resident Geraldine Ivory. 

Hayden has served for 30 years, and some believe that experience, and how he's conducted himself, will win over any naysayers.  

"How he recruits new officers in, how he holds officers accountable and how he engages the neighborhood residents," said James Clark with Better Family Life. 

Some are taking the wait and see approach. State Representative Bruce Franks, an outspoken critic of St. Louis police, agreed with the decision to hire Hayden but maintains a cautious optimism. 

"It's good and bad. You know have someone who has been there in the system, but you have someone who has been around," he said. 

In recent months, officers faced criticism for their handling of protests after the Jason Stockley verdict, something Hayden already vowed to address. 

"There were some things that worked well and something that obviously didn't work as well as we would have liked," he said. 

Hayden added he would be open to review how officer-involved shootings are investigated. 

"We are held to a higher standard and we should be and we need to live up to that," he said.  

The life-long St. Louis resident also said his crime reduction strategy would incorporate community outreach, expanding the use of technology and more training for officers.

“John Hayden has served St. Louis with honor and distinction for 30 years,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said. “He has a great track record building trust in the communities in which he’s served. At this very critical time in our City, John will continue that exemplary service as our police chief.”

The announcement was made by Mayor Krewson during a press conference Thursday.

“John Hayden and his contributions to the St. Louis Police Department and to the community are respected and held in high esteem by a broad cross-section of the St. Louis community, including his peers in the law enforcement community,” Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards said. “He treats all people, whether law enforcement or the accused, with respect. I believe that his informed concern for our City will be a great asset in closing the trust gap between the police and citizens.”

As police chief, Hayden will be in charge of 1,300 sworn officers and 40 civilian employees.

In April, Dotson, who began serving as police chief in December 2012, retired from the position. When he retired, Lt. Col. Lawrence O'Toole was appointed the interim police chief. 

O’Toole, effective immediately, will stay with the police department and serve as the assistant chief of police. He will also get a raise in pay from $108,000 to $115,000. 

Two weeks ago, six finalists for the position were part of a town hall hosted by the City of St. Louis.

In alphabetical order the other five finalists were:

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.

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.

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