After months of deliberation, the formation of a citizen advisory committee and forums to gather public feedback, St. Louis leaders hired a new police chief from within their own ranks: John Hayden, a 30-year police veteran, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hayden, 55 and a St. Louis native, has been commander of the North Patrol Division since September 2015, the city’s highest-crime area. He replaces interim chief Lawrence O’Toole,who was appointed in April after Chief Sam Dotson abruptly retired on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s first day in office. A national search for a chief marked the first time in modern history that St. Louis considered external candidates for top cop. The department had been under state control before 2013, and Missouri law forbade hiring a chief from outside of the department.
Hayden was chosen over three finalists from out of state: Maj. Stephen Max Geron of the Dallas Police Department; Norman, Ok., Police Chief Keith Humphrey; and Chief Patrick Melvin of the Port Arthur , Tx. Police Department. O’Toole and St. Louis police Capt. Mary Edwards-Fears also were finalists. The fact that O’Toole didn’t get the top job is a relief, said state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., who said he had heard from many in the community who felt it was important to hire a police chief who knew and understood St. Louis. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said Hayden’s qualifications set him apart from candidates from throughout the U.S.