ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The City of St. Louis is on pace for one of its deadliest years in a quarter of a century, and St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden called policing in the city in the current climate "exhausting."
“When I'm trying to respond to shootings like we had last night (referring to the double shooting in Midtown) and I'm trying to respond to protests, it's just exhausting,” he said. “So I expect to be held accountable, but I hope people think about what we are faced with and how we are responding the best we can.”
Hayden says he has June 1 circled on his calendar.
That night during unrest, retired police captain David Dorn was shot and killed, four other officers were shot, and a 7-Eleven burned to the ground.
“June First is a day I will never forget, as one of the most violent and traumatic nights in our department’s history,” Hayden said. “And that was the first night of the protest. And the protest continues, and so does the violence, so I think there is a correlation.”
Hayden said the thing that can best slow violent crime is more officers.
He said the department is 123 officers short, and as a nationwide movement continues to defund police departments, he feels that's not a solution for St. Louis.
“So when you say ‘defund the St. Louis Police Department’ in particular, you're saying you want less officers. Interestingly enough, I haven't gone to one community meeting since I've been a police officer that folks weren't demanding more visibility and more police,” he said.
Hayden added programs for conflict resolution and de-escalation are also important, but ultimately, he said they need more officers on the streets.
He also said he signed off on the order for body cameras Tuesday morning.
All 600 officers in the patrol division will get one.