ST. LOUIS, MO – In a move that is raising the eyebrows of many due to the racist undertones, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones proclaimed earlier in January that she wants to restart the search for a new police chief, citing the process as having been flawed because she was only presented with “two white male candidates to choose from.”
On January 4th, Mayor Jones stated that she wants to run the process of finding a new police chief again, noting that there “were flaws in the current process and we promised the community an open and transparent process, and this is not that.”
Apparently, those flaws – according to Mayor Jones – were the fact that the two prime candidates for police chief within the department happened to be white men, and Mayor Jones wants to now start the whole process over.
“I only had two white male candidates to choose from and St. Louis is more diverse than white males, our police department is more diverse—there were a lot of diverse candidates within the police department who were kicked out of the first round so I want to start over to find the right candidate.”
“The right” candidate, apparently, being someone who isn’t white.
Not only is the stance Mayor Jones presented on the matter concerning all on its own, the timing of this proclamation by the mayor likely couldn’t be worse, as the city is in the midst of a lawsuit from the assistant police chief for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department alleging he was passed over for a promotion because he’s white.
Back in May of 2020, Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole filed a lawsuit alleging the racial discrimination, where Lt. Col. O’Toole claimed that Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told him after he was passed over for promotion that, “If Jason Stockley didn’t happen, you would be the police chief.”
Lt. Col. O’Toole had began functioning as the interim police chief in April of 2017 through October of 2017. During that time as interim chief, riots broke out after former Officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty in September of 2017 for a murder charge stemming from a 2011 officer-involved shooting.
As is the case with most riots, they did not serve as a positive light based upon the required police response which was under O’Toole’s leadership at the time. When the selection process for a new chief opened and closed that October, they’d settled on picking John Hayden – a black man who apparently held less seniority and commendations within the department when compared to O’Toole.
With respect to the current search for a police chief, there were reportedly a total of 30 nationwide applicants who sought the position. Due to the requirements citing a need for a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 10 years’ experience as a captain or higher, the qualified applicant number down to four, two of whom resided in the department.
When it came time to administer the written test, the two applicants outside of the department never showed, leaving just the two internal department employees taking the test. One of those who took the test was O’Toole, which only further complicates things based upon his lawsuit and Mayor Jones’ recent comments.