St. Louis Police Chief Delays Retirement as Search for Replacement Grinds On


St. Louis police Chief John Hayden is not retiring quite yet. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • St. Louis police Chief John Hayden is not retiring quite yet.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden has postponed his plans to retire in February.

First reported by KSDK, the police chief will stay on the job “until further notice” amid a nationwide search for his replacement. Hayden has been in the role for four years, and his original plans had him retiring on his 35th anniversary with the force.

The search for Hayden’s replacement has been complicated, with Mayor Tishaura Jones telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week that the process needed to restart amid a tangled conflict between City Hall departments vying to influence the process. The current search, Jones said, has ground to an impasse "because the process started by the outgoing personnel director was not very transparent, and there were several candidates who didn’t make it to the next level who had the be tested or interviewed.”

The mayor’s office released a statement after the news broke, confirming Hayden's postponement and reiterating the search for a chief is still underway.

“The Mayor does not have unilateral authority to restart the police chief search herself,” the statement continues. “That is up to the Department of Personnel and the St. Louis Civil Service Commission."

Jones, in a September press conference, committed to a diverse candidate pool, as well as finding a chief who would work to find policing issues that could be "better solved with behavioral health and civilian intervention” and continue programs like Cops and Clinicians.

In order to become chief, the job description currently requires ten years of experience at the rank of captain or higher and a bachelor's degree. A Post-Dispatch report in December revealed that the two internal candidates for chief were Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole and Commander of Community policing Lt. Col. Michael Sack. O'Toole is currently suing the city for discrimination over allegations that he did not get the police chief job in 2017 because he is white.

Four out-of-state candidates have remained in the pool but have not been tested due to the Personnel Department's concerns over cybersecurity and that its internet connectivity is not fast enough to support virtual exams. The Civil Service Commission, a panel that oversees the personnel department, has directed the personnel department to find a way to upgrade their internet so virtual tests for external candidates are possible.

The mayor's office views the Civil Service Commission's concerns about the lack of virtual testing and marketing firm as valid, according to their statement.

The statement finished with saying Jones' hope for St. Louisans is "that there is a fair and transparent application process to select the most qualified candidates."

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @writesjenna. Email the author at [email protected]
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