Interim St. Louis Police Chief Under Fire After Protests

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St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said comments by interim Police Chief Lawrence OToole after a third night of protesting were “inflammatory,” but she is standing by him, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Throughout the protests, which began Friday after a white police officer was found not guilty of murdering a black drug suspect after a car chase, Krewson has been careful to show support for the police department she oversees and for the protesters who have peacefully demonstrated. Krewson said Tuesday that she had met with the chief and told him that his remarks and those chanted by his officers were inappropriate and certainly nothing that she supported.

Early Monday, a few hours after more than 100 people were arrested and downtown business windows were shattered, O’Toole said that police “owned tonight.” Officers facing off with protesters chanted “Whose streets? Our streets,” co-opting a popular phrase used by demonstrators during marches. “I wish they wouldn’t have said that,” Krewson said. She said intimidation by police “is not conduct that lives up to the standard of behavior expected by city police officers or any city employee.” O’Toole has served as chief since the abrupt resignation of Sam Dotson, whose departure was announced on Krewson’s first day in office five months ago. A national search is underway for Dotson’s replacement, which is still a few months away. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is hosting a town hall meeting Wednesday night to seek public input “as they develop their candidate profile and recruitment strategy,” a flier states. Protesters in the streets and on social media have called for the ouster of O’Toole, who is white, and say new leadership is necessary to change the culture of the police department and improve relationships with African Americans.

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