St. Louis Officials Name Interim Police Chief, Hayden to Retire in June

click to enlarge Police Chief John Hayden will serve his last day on June 18. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
Police Chief John Hayden will serve his last day on June 18.

St. Louis officials will launch a nationwide search for a new police chief now that Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden is set to retire on June 18. An interim chief will take his place in the meantime.

On Wednesday, Mayor Tishaura Jones and Director of Public Safety Dan Isom announced Lt. Col. Michael Sack will serve has Hayden’s replacement until a permanent chief can be found, though Sack is not out of the running to permanently replace Hayden.

“It very well may be that after this next search he does become chief, but we want to make sure that we keep our promise to the community to be transparent and to present all of the candidates through various town halls and neighborhood meetings,” Jones says.

Hayden originally planned to retire in February, but postponed his departure as a search for his replacement lagged. He first announced his intent to retire in September, and in a press conference at the time, Jones said a search for his replacement would begin immediately.

In January, Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the search for Hayden’s replacement needed to reboot after the city’s personnel department rejected qualified applicants and selected finalists with little explanation. Jones said the search process needed to be more transparent.

“We didn’t cast the net wide enough in my opinion, and we want to make sure that we are able to keep our promises to the community and be transparent,” Jones said Wednesday.

Hayden became chief of police in 2017 after then-mayor Lyda Krewson began a national search upon the retirement of Sam Dotson, which was announced within 48 hours of her tenure.

A Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm called The Boulware Group will head the search for Hayden’s replacement. The Center for Policing Equity, which has worked with the City of St. Louis on police reform under Jones’ administration, will assist in the search.

“This has been an honor of a lifetime to serve as chief of police for the city,” Hayden says. “I love this city, I’ll always be here, and I’m looking forward to watching Col. Sack fill the role.”

Sack has worked for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for 27 years in various roles. Among many positions, Sack has served as Commander of Crimes Against Persons and Commander of the Central Patrol Division. In 2015, he was promoted to major and served as commander of the central division. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2019.

Under his leadership, Sack says the department’s focus on violent crime will continue.

“Not just creating a wide swath through a community to affect arrests, which can cause more harm than good, but identifying particular bad actors, developing cases and presenting those cases to the circuit attorney’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office for prosecution," Sack says.

In addition, Sack says he will focus on integrity within the agency.

“We have to reflect our core values — leadership, service, integrity and fair treatment to all,” he added. “If we can do that internally and hold ourselves accountable, the community will then begin to see that we are partners with them as we try to reduce crime.”

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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