ST. LOUIS (KMOX) updated at 1:45 p.m. – St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson announced he is retiring, the day after Mayor Lyda Krewson takes office.
During the campaign for mayor, some candidates had called for Dotson to be fired, but Krewson always said she would wait until she was mayor to evaluate Dotson’s future. The search for a new chief will be both local and national, Krewson says.
“I think the ideal chief is somebody very competent as a police chief, as a police officer, and also very fair and inclusive in all of their actions,” Krewson says.
Krewson says Dotson broached the subject of retirement and offered to do so without being asked. He will stay on for a year as a “consultant” with an annual salary of $129,000.
Meanwhile, the head of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association, Jeff Roorda, says he finds it “extremely hard to believe” that Chief Dotson retired voluntarily.
“The mayor can call for my resignation all she wants. I represent a group of 1100 police officers, I have their full confidence and full support and I’ve got the law on my side too,” Roorda says.
He says the city is required by law to meet with and bargain with the elected representatives of the police union. He says Krewson needs to get input from the union about the search for a new chief.
The Ethical Society of Police sent a statement to KMOX’s Carol Daniel, saying they support the decision to accept Dotson’s retirement:
The Ethical Society of Police supports our new St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson in accepting Chief Doyle “Sam” Dotson’s retirement from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. We believe this is the right decision for our city going forward and a positive sign of Krewson’s future leadership.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department needed change. Now it is time to hire a Chief of Police who will work with our community and officers to improve our city.
Our new Chief of Police must be someone who understands equality, fair police tactics, strategies, and community engagement. We support a nationwide search that begins within our own ranks, and welcome any candidate that meets the above criteria.
Former alderman and mayoral candidate Antonio French was one of the loudest critics of the now former Chief Dotson. Reacting to his resignation, French says he thinks his retirement is a good move.
“I think it’s good for the city of St. Louis. It would move into a different direction as I’ve been calling for for over a year now,” French says.
He says he thinks a national search should be conducted to find someone with proven experience in reducing crime, especially violent crime.
“We really need to shift resources to those neighborhoods that count for the majority of violent crime, because it is the violent crime that is really damaging the reputation of our city,” French says. “It’s very difficult to retain population and businesses, so that needs to be the priority.”
Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed says the new chief needs to have a better connection with the city’s poorer neighborhoods.
“The neighborhoods and the people within the community, they’re not cooperating with the police department to get to the bottom of some of these things. So there’s a lot that can be gained, not just by the police department and each individual neighborhood but by the entire city and the state,” he says.
Comptroller Darlene Green agrees.
“We need someone that’s all about crime prevention, safe neighborhoods, safe city,” Green says.