Good Choice: Determination, Community Policing, A “Face-to-Face” New Top City Cop – John Hayden

29 Dec









Good Choice: Determination, Community Policing, A “Face-to-Face” New Top City Cop – John Hayden

It’s easy to criticize! But it’s more challenging to accept citizen responsibility and be a part of the solution.

As I arrived Thursday in Room 200 of the Mayor’s office in St. Louis City, there was already a gaggle of media reporters and photogs circling the podium; just waiting for a nod from the press chief that the press conference announcing the new St. Louis Police Commissioner (Chief) John Hayden. Before, I entered I had bumped into my long-time friend, Stacey Edwards, the sidekick of Judge Jimmie Edwards, newly installed Public Safety Director. She and a friend were patiently waiting outside in the hall, before the curtain went up.

Despite some naysayers, and some who truly disrespect law and order, I knew that former Alderwoman and now the first female St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson wasn’t going backwards with the new police commissioner appointment. The determined Mayor and strong-willed resourceful Judge Jimmie Edwards, who I’ve known as a lawyer years ago, and an education innovator wasn’t about to select acting police commissioner Larry O’Toole.

There was just too much community outcry, and from my standpoints. Larry is a decent tough cop, but appeared to have been somewhat lacking political or social engagement skills to lead and push forward, a new progressive City Hall policing agenda for the City’s police department in an often divided and “crime-nervous community.”

So, I wasn’t surprised when Krewson and Edwards selected a 30-year St. Louis educated, and professional police Major. I knew of John’s quiet and often good works within the community and the department. For the past 10 years, public events and community gatherings, I attended, I recall always bumping into John Hayden, then a soft-spoken but community passionate professional. Not sure if that was part of his J-O-B, or he was just an strong advocate for community policing as a resident. I came to believe the latter.

When I asked activist Bruce Frank, Jr., a MO State Rep what he thought of the appointment, he gave Edwards and Krewson’s appointment, a 7.5 on a scale of 10. I then gave Hayden, a 9.5 because of his commitment to community policing, crime fighting and administrative chores in the trenches for years, when there were no bright lights shining on him.

At the press conference, I felt a spirit of comfort, and determination, and a new beginning to have better policing, more professional policing, more community engagement by the area residents, and a sincere focusing on some programs to reduce violent crime.

It’s also going to take additional hires of men and women law enforcement professionals, who aren’t threatened with “protect and serve,” in an urban environment.

I see tremendous possibilities, as Mayor Lyda Krewson and Director of Public Safety Jimmie Edwards appointed John Hayden as their and our new Police Commissioner.

Background: Hayden is a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. During that span, he has risen through the department, earning the rank of lieutenant in 1995, captain in 2006, and major in 2015. His most recent position was commander of the Police Department’s North Patrol Division. Between 2006 and 2013, he served as commander of the Internal Affairs Division.

“John Hayden has served St. Louis with honor and distinction for 30 years,” Mayor 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.”

“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.”

“I know that our Police Department must change from within in order to earn the support of our citizens,” Edwards added.

Hayden, 55, holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Washington University, a master’s degree in management from Fontbonne University, and has earned more than half of the credits required for a law degree from St. Louis University School of Law. As police commissioner, Hayden will earn $153,000 a year. He will be in charge of a department of 1,300 sworn officers, 400 civilian employees, and a yearly budget of $170 million.

During the interview process, it has been said that Hayden said he is committed to community policing. His vision is of a Police Department that is accountable to the people of St. Louis, and a department that views citizens as partners working hand-in-hand with officers to combat crime, he said. “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.”

The lifelong St. Louis resident said his crime reduction strategy will be a holistic one, incorporating enforcement, community outreach, analysis and redistribution of resources, a more in-depth analysis of calls for service and crime trends, expanding the use of technology, early intervention and prevention, and more training for officers. “Addressing crime in the City of St. Louis will require a police commissioner who is trusted by our citizens,” Hayden said. “I have earned their trust by being present and making myself available, by setting up a mobile office on the streets in our most challenged neighborhoods, by having outdoor roll calls in struggling neighborhoods, by attending community meetings and seeking feedback, but most importantly by walking the streets and talking to our citizens face-to-face.”

So, let’s realize that it going to take a “community” and a “village” to help battle crime in our St. Louis region and in the urban core, the City of St. Louis. Let’s give Edwards, Krewson and yes, Hayden a chance. It’s easy to criticize, but it’s more challenging to accept citizen responsibility and be a part of the solution.

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