ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner responded to Police Chief Hayden's claims Saturday that he was 'surprised' to receive an exclusion list.
In a statement, Gardner wrote "If Chief Hayden is unaware of the details regarding our concerns with the credibility of some of his officers, then he needs to look no further for information than his own command staff."
The circuit attorney says there is documented communications between the St. Louis "Chief Warrant officer and the Commander of Professional Standards regarding the issue."
Garner's full statement can be read here:
Friday afternoon, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office said the list, which excludes 28 city officers as witnesses from future cases, brought up the issue of the officers to "police leadership in an effort to ensure integrity in the system."
Below is a full statement from Gardner's office:
"Prosecutors first brought the issue of these officers to police leadership in an effort to ensure integrity in the system.
After prosecutors discussed the specific officers about which they had concerns, the SLMPD asked for a physical list, which was subsequently sent to them."
The prosecutor's office added that "exclusion of witnesses is entirely appropriate when there are questions of veracity, whether they are police officers or lay people" and that "it is the job of prosecutors to determine the credibility of all witnesses and make the appropriate decisions on who they are going to put on the witness stand."
ST. LOUIS POLICE CHIEF'S RESPONSE
Hayden said no leaders from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department requested an officer "exclusion list" fromGardner's Office. Hayden also said the department did not have any need for a list.
In the statement, Hayden said he was "quite surprised to have received it" and that there was "no indication the list was properly vetted."
Hayden's full statement can be read here:
No leaders from our Department asked the Circuit Attorney’s Office to compile an Exclusion list, nor do we have any need for such a list. I was quite surprised to have received it. There is no indication that the list was properly vetted. We determined that six of the officers on the list no longer work for the Department. Several of the officers were involved in past investigations but have been cleared with no sustained charges.
Whenever we are concerned about an officer's credibility, or utility with respect to protecting our citizens, that officer can be placed on administrative duty pending a determination about his or her future with the agency. This list is an unnecessary overreach which would be better handled on a case-by-case basis.
As we are currently 145 officers down, we do not have the luxury of arbitrarily placing officers on a list which hinders their ability to fully do their job.
In a Thursday statement, the police department said, "The Police Division did receive an Exclusion List created by the Circuit Attorney’s Office. While we are seeking legal guidance on how this affects the Police Division, we have also taken steps to notify each of the involved employees. At this time, we are considering how best to proceed and what if any actions to take. Any further inquiries should be directed to the Circuit Attorney’s Office."
“A police officer’s word, and the complete veracity of that word, is fundamentally necessary to doing the job. Therefore, any break in trust must be approached with deep concern,” Circuit Attorney Gardner said in a statement.
The full statement released by Gardner's office on Friday can be read here:
Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner is committed to the public safety of the residents and its visitors of the City of St. Louis. It's important for the community to understand that the Circuit Attorney’s Office will continue to pursue current, open criminal cases involving these officers, as long as the criminal case can be proven without the testimony of these specific officers. Proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law requires credible evidence. Police testimony is only one form of evidence.
Prosecutors will work with police to do everything possible to ensure violent offenders are held accountable, regardless of the role any of these police officers may have had in the gathering of evidence.
For several months, key leaders of the Circuit Attorney’s Office and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department have had in-depth conversations about prosecutors’ concerns regarding the credibility of several city police officers. Contrary to reports, these concerns were not a surprise to the SLMPD this week.
Exclusion of witnesses is entirely appropriate when there are questions of veracity, whether they are police officers or lay people. In fact, it is the job of prosecutors to determine the credibility of all witnesses and make the appropriate decisions on who they are going to put on the witness stand. Prosecutors across the country exclude police officers from bringing cases to their office when they believe it’s necessary. To say this never happens is inaccurate.
The list was created at the request of the SLMPD, not at the urging of prosecutors, as it was intended for internal purposes to ensure integrity in the system. Circuit Gardner had a productive conversation with the Director of Public Safety today to ensure he was clear about her position on this important matter and to express her disappointment that the someone in the police department felt it necessary to leak this information to the media, which has resulted in fostering misinformation and fear in the community.
Circuit Attorney Gardner will not jeopardize the integrity of the criminal justice system by allowing the concerning actions of a small number of police officers to taint the good work of the honest, credible and hardworking police officers of our police department.
On Friday, St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said the Circuit Attorney's Office has not provided specifics as to why specific officers are on an "exclusion list."
Edwards also said he spoke to Gardner on the phone and pledged cooperation and encourage open communication between her office and police.
Edwards added that some of the officers on the list haven't worked for the department for "some time, dating back to 2016." Hayden confirmed six of the officers on the list are no longer with the department on Saturday.
Gardner delivered the list of the 28 officers to the police department on Tuesday.
"Their reputation is being attacked by a prosecutor who doesn't have a very good reputation herself," said Jeff Roorda, who is with the St. Louis Police Officers Association, on Thursday as news of the list was made public.
News 4 learned the Circuit Attorney's office has been holding meetings with police department leaders over concern about the honesty of some officers and those meetings have been on going for several months.
The police department has informed the officers included on the list but the police union said they are left in the dark.
"Demanding that an explanation be given to the police department and these officers as to how their name ended up on this list and how they get off this list," said Roorda.
Roorda said if the list gets out it could ruin an officer's reputation.
Critics of Gardner's list said it could encourage criminals.
Former prosecutor Kristi Flint told News 4 on Friday she's never heard of something similar to this list and believes it could lead to libel lawsuits.
"She could be opening herself up to some sort of civil liability. Based on the fact that she's making an accusation just by writing their names down,"said Flint.
The police union is asking that the list be sequestered so the names do not get out.
Hours after the story broke, News 4 learned Attorney General Josh Hawley's office requested a copy of the list, along with the factual and legal bases for each officer's inclusion on the list.