Soon, the St. Louis Police Department will have a new chief. State law requires the next chief come from the current ranks of the City department. I would have preferred to do a national search for a police chief - something that can be done in many other cities. However, I was very impressed by the candidates here who sought the top job.
I will not select the new chief, though under state law I will be one of five votes (the other four voters are commissioners selected by the governor) that make the selection. I will be looking for a no excuses crime-fighter, for a leader, for a person with an unswerving moral compass who has the courage to make the changes needed to fix the department. I think the police commissioners will be looking for the same things.
The new police chief’s job is going to be tough. A growing population that has also shifted within the city limits will probably mean reorganization and will certainly require different tactics, better communications, and new technology. An on-going investigation has yet to determine if any officers, commanders, or managers were involved in the towing scandal. Hard economic times will accelerate some sorts of crimes, while pinched budgets will limit the resources available to address them. Presidential and Congressional elections next month will determine if Washington , D.C. , will fund - or starve - crime fighting programs.
Yet, the new police chief will also have some strong allies. The new fire chief will be a good partner in public safety. The new public school district superintendent is strongly interested in what his students do during - and after - school hours. The other City officials to whom I have spoken are strongly committed to helping the chief make all neighborhoods safe. The vast majority of police officers do their jobs proudly and well. And City residents and business owners ovewhelmingly support the department.
I will continue to keep you updated on this important matter.