ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It was an off-the-cuff remark revealing some frustration with low-performing officers—a remark that caused an uproar with the police union and prompted the Chief of Police to issue an apology.
Last week, Police Chief Sam Dotson was chatting with residents after a public hearing about their concerns that police response times are too slow. The exchange, caught on tape by KMOX, included Dotson explaining that the average police response time is seven minutes, although, he said, it can be longer if a higher priority call is drawing away officers. Then, the chief got to the part that ruffled some feathers.
“I’ve got 1300 employees, 1300 police officers,” Dotson said, “I got 20 percent which are high performers. I got 20 percent which are just slugs, and I got the 60 percent in the middle. I’m trying to work on the 20 percent down here that are slugs, but, you know, I’m trying to move everybody along.”
The remark, which at first seemed to possibly describe any organization—from NASA to a doughnut shop—drew a sharp attacks on the Chief on the website St. Louis Coptalk. One poster even composed a rendering of a slug, a kind of slow-moving land snail, with the face of Chief Dotson rendered in.
Calling people a “sluggard” is apparently a tradition that goes back to Old Testament times. King Solomon is said to have complained about them in the Book of Proverbs:
“How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so are sluggards to those who send them.”
Despite the long tradition of the phrase, the St. Louis Police Union called the Chief to complain and the Chief issued an apology to his officers:
“Yesterday, during a radio interview, I made some comments that were not indicative of your hard work and professionalism. The comments were my own, but do not accurately express the respect and admiration I have for all commissioned and civilian employees of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. I sincerely apologize for those comments.”
Jeff Roorda with the St. Louis Police Officers Association says Dotson’s apology is accepted and the matter is now behind them.
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