Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Chief Hayden's Push for More Witness Cooperation Starts in His Own Department

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Chief Hayden's Push for More Witness Cooperation Starts in His Own Department

Article excerpt

About 100 days into his job as the top cop in the city of St. Louis, Chief John Hayden addressed a nagging problem in a city that sometimes struggles to solve violent crimes because it can't get victims and witnesses to cooperate.

"If we expect the community to cooperate with us, they have to be comfortable around us," Hayden said in April. "They have to trust us."

To help improve the environment for witness cooperation, Hayden has taken to the streets, driving his mobile command vehicle to some of the city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods, walking house-to-house with some of his fellow officers, making connections.

He doesn't need to drive far to get to one of the areas that could benefit from that message.

It's inside police headquarters.

Last month, amid a federal investigation into the police department, one of Hayden's detectives sent an email that could put a damper on officers' appetite to cooperate with the FBI or the Justice Department.

"I wanted to take a moment to remind all of you that the SLPOA has attorneys' on staff to keep you and other members of this department out of Prison," wrote Detective Joseph Mader on July 26. The email was sent to the entire third district. "If anyone from this department or an Outside department contact you to answer questions regarding any criminal matter involving you or one of our other members please CALL the SLPOA legal division."

Mader is the St. Louis Police Officers Association Division 3 representative. The email was obtained by the Post-Dispatch through a Sunshine Law request.

Shown the email by the Post-Dispatch, Hayden was critical of the message it sent his officers.

"The fact that the author felt it important to remind the recipients that there were attorneys available 'to keep you and other members of this department out of Prison' would imply that the author was aware of or at least concerned about behavior of the recipients, which could warrant incarceration," Hayden said in a statement. "This notion is inconsistent with the solemn oath that we take and the code of conduct to which we adhere."

The FBI is known to be investigating last year's "kettling" action on the night of Sept. 15. That was one of the nights of protests after former police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. That night, police in riot gear closed in around protesters, reporters and bystanders at Tucker Boulevard and Washington Avenue, taking dozens of people to the ground and spraying them with pepper spray.

An undercover black police officer was also caught in the mayhem and injured, apparently at the hands of other police officers. …

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