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Chief pushes back on police union’s call for outside support

ST. LOUIS – After a violent night on June 1-2, the business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association issued a letter saying his group no longer had faith in police Chief John Hayden’s ability to deal with civil unrest.

Jeff Roorda
The union official, Jeff Roorda, called on Gov. Mike Parson to bring in an outside force – whether state troopers, the National Guard or others – capable of quelling more violence. 

But Hayden wasn’t having it.

“Quite frankly, I am not interested in the business manager’s Monday-morning quarterbacking on our decisions at the managerial level, especially since it comes from someone who has never commanded any officers,” Hayden wrote in a statement tweeted on the city police department’s Twitter page.

“The business manager of the SLPOA feels a need to thrive on crisis, attempts to invoke panic, and is accustomed to an environment wherein he can control the chief of police,” he said in the statement. “A person who is controversial and divisive as he is through his words and actions has no seat at the table, and I am not alone in this sentiment.”

Mayor Lyda Krewson put out a statement that clearly supported the police chief. 

“@ChiefJohnHayden has my full confidence and support,” she tweeted. “He has the right experience & temperament for these difficult times. Now is not time to resurrect these personal attacks. We should put this energy into keeping our residents, neighborhoods & businesses safe.”

The night of June 1-2 saw one person killed and four police officers shot. At a press conference  on June 2, Hayden said that at least 55 businesses had been damaged by looters and that 25 people had been arrested. 

Repeated efforts to contact Roorda or another spokesperson for the association over the last several days were unsuccessful.  

At a news conference on June 3, Parson said that  he had received Roorda’s letter on June 2 but hadn’t formed an opinion about it. As of that day, he didn’t plan any action.

Mike Parson
Parson said the National Guard and the Missouri Highway Patrol were already in St. Louis. He said he had met with Hayden the day before. 

The governor said that one major problem he saw with the request had to do with who would take over. 

“I think it’s simple to say, with everything else going on, the Highway Patrol,” Parson said. He mentioned the colonel of the Highway Patrol. But that would be difficult, the governor said.

“We don’t have the support to take over a police department the size of St. Louis, when we have the entire state to work on.” 

Hayden said in his response to Roorda’s letter  that he was open to hearing from other leaders of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. But he would not communicate with Roorda.

“The commissioned officers who are elected to the executive board of the SLPOA have my utmost respect, and I encourage them to communicate with me. However, this will be done without the presence of their business manager, who is not a member of this department,” the police chief wrote.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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