ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The latest public hearing designed to gather input on the choice for St. Louis city police chief happened Tuesday night at the International Institute on Arsenal.
There, several dozen residents heard from the 13-member Citizen Advisory Committee and then broke up into discussion groups.
Organizers cautioned that the final choice for a successor to former chief Sam Dotson could take several months, but Patty Lee said that’s why now is the perfect time to weigh in on qualities that the next chief should, and should not, possess.
“We do not need someone that’s divisive,” according to Lee. “We do not need someone who really can’t think clearly about issues. We don’t need someone who sides with one group of people over others.”
Sitting next to her was Lamar Vaughn, who expounded on what he wants to see from St. Louis police going forward.
“There’s always conflict about the hiring and promotion of African Americans on the job,” he said. “To be fair they should be better represented in the community, with more black policemen on the streets. Then they might better relate to the communities that they’re serving.”
Vaughn added that the next chief will have to focus on “healing the racial divide”, both within the police ranks and across the entire community.
Among those who make up the 13-member CAC is former city police chief Daniel Isom.
He said it’s obvious that the next chief should have a comprehensive plan for fighting crime in St. Louis.
“But you also have to have the ability to connect with the community and bring them into the fold in terms of a solution (to racial inequity),” Isom explained. “You have to have the ability to work with different government entities, from the prosecutor to city government. All of those are skills that are necessary for a chief.”
Isom, who is black, said the successor to Dotson doesn’t necessarily have to be African American, but absolutely needs to “understand those sensitivities”.
“They must understand the history of the department, the city, and the nation — then use that as a guide to how he or she develops plans and interacts with the public,” Isom said.
It’s expected that the final choice for a new police chief could be as much as nine months away.
The next public hearing will be held at Vashon High School (3035 Cass Ave.) on Saturday, July 8 from 10 am to 12 pm.
You can go to http://bit.ly/stlcitypccac for more information on the Citizen Advisory Committee and the process of choosing the city’s next chief of police.