Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Henderson Is Police Chief

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Henderson Is Police Chief

Article excerpt

Ronald Henderson, who once bridged a racial gap to become a commander popular with some of the city's most influential white businessmen, has been chosen to lead the St. Louis Police Department into the next century.

Lt. Col. Henderson, 47, was selected by the Police Board Monday night to become the city's 31st police chief. He succeeds Clarence Harmon.

"Words don't come right now, but I'm thinking them," Henderson said in the sixth floor board room at headquarters after wild applause greeted the announcement by board President Anne-Marie Clarke.

"I want to thank the board for its confidence and for looking at the whole person," Henderson said. "I won't let you down. The department is in good hands."

Henderson had been considered the favorite among the candidates, in part because of his friendship with state Senate Majority Leader J.B. "Jet" Banks, a powerful politician who has boasted of helping the careers of Henderson and several other officers.

It was well-known within the department that Harmon did not want Henderson to succeed him because of his ties with Banks.

Harmon was in Kuwait Monday night, helping that country organize a juvenile justice center.

"Politics win out," Harmon said when he learned of the decision. He said he wasn't surprised.

Harmon officially quits Friday to take an executive job with United Van Lines in Fenton, Mo.

Henderson called the chief's job "a dream - it's the ultimate dream to go to the top. . . . I'll keep this a safe and wonderful city."

The Police Board refused to allow reporters to ask Henderson any questions.

Henderson was one of five candidates, all lieutenant colonels, who submitted written essays to the Police Board; each of the five was interviewed Monday. Board members said Henderson's selection was unanimous.

Clarke said the selection of Henderson was based on his "performance, experience, skill and vision." She said he has shown himself to have the honesty, integrity, compassion and tenacity needed to be a good chief. …

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