Police Chief Finalists Include Three Insiders, Including Lawrence O'Toole

Interim Chief Lawrence O'Toole addresses a forum for the finalists for chief of St. Louis police. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
Interim Chief Lawrence O'Toole addresses a forum for the finalists for chief of St. Louis police.
Odds are good St. Louis' new police chief will have familiarity with the city and its department — three of the six finalists are currently employed by it.

After a national search, the city tonight unveiled its six finalists at a community forum. They include:
  • Mary Edwards-Fears, who commands the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's Evidence Management and Professional Standards as a captain. She was a finalist at the time the city's previous chief, Sam Dotson, was selected.
  • John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the department who commands the North Patrol Division.
  • Interim Chief Lt. Colonel Lawrence O'Toole, who has been in charge of the department during some fraught months this fall. He's been with the SLMPD for 33 years.
O'Toole took over just after Mayor Lyda Krewson's inauguration this spring and has become a lightning rod for activists.

Hayden was also involved with the department's response to the protests; though he lacks O'Toole's baggage, he was one of the majors on protest duty and was riding with "Riot King" Brian Rossomanno on the night he was kettled. Previously a member of the internal affairs division, he helped investigate the World Series ticket scandal.

The other finalists include three veterans from other departments:
  • Stephen Geron. Geron is as a major serving as the executive officer in the Southeast Patrol Division in the Dallas Police Department. A 25-year veteran of the Dallas department, he has also been a department spokesman.
  • Keith Humphreys. Currently the chief in Norman, Oklahoma, Humphreys was a finalist for the Kansas City, Missouri, police chief job earlier this year but got passed over for an internal candidate. He was chief of the department in Lancaster, Texas, from 2008 to 2011 before landing in Norman in 2011.
  • Patrick Melvin. Melvin has been the chief of police for Port Arthur since May 2016, but spent much of his career in the Phoenix area. He served as the police chief for Arizona's Salt River Police Department from 2011 to 2016. He also served as the chief of police for the Arizona town of Maricopa from 2006 to 2009. He took over Port Arthur last year, where he has clashed with the police union.
The RFT's Danny Wicentowski is at tonight's forum; check back for coverage on all the finalists and what they had to say tomorrow.

Doyle Murphy contributed to this story.

About The Author

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of Euclid Media Group, overseeing publications in eight cities. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and was previously editor-in-chief of the RFT and the LA Weekly. She lives in St. Louis.
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