Kat Riddler, Managing Editor
After a long nationwide search, John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, was named Police Chief of St. Louis on December 28, 2017.
Hayden has served as the Commander of North Patrol Division since September 2015. During that time, his crime strategies resulted in significant crime reduction in several neighborhoods according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department website. As the Commander of the Internal Affairs Division, Hayden oversaw more than 1200 investigations of employee misconduct. He has experience with the Fourth District, Vice and Narcotics Division, and the Detective Unit.
From 2001 to 2007, Hayden served as the Executive Aide to the Chief of Police gaining experience managing the department from the executive level. He has extensive teaching experience from his time in the Police Academy, where he served as both an instructor and training coordinator. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department website said, “While in the Police Academy, Colonel Hayden was responsible for teaching and developing training on a topic that is still his top priority–ethics.”
He is St. Louis City’s 35th Police Chief. The appointment was effective immediately. Hayden will earn a salary of $153,000 and will have a department budget of $170 million dollars. The police department budget is a third of the City’s overall budget. He will also oversee 1,300 officers and 400 civilian employees. He is in charge of the second largest police department in the state of Missouri.
Hayden replaced interim chief Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole who was appointed in April after then-Police Chief Sam Dotson retired on Mayor Lyda Krewson’s first day in office.
The search marked the first time in modern history that St. Louis considered external candidates for the position. Hayden was one of only three internal candidates. Missouri law forbade hiring a chief from outside of the department when the department was under state control before 2013.
Mayor Krewson said, “Many of you thought we were taking too long to find a new chief. Our thought has always been, we’ll take as long as it takes to get it right. And today, we got it right.”
Hayden told St. Louis Public Radio his first priority as chief, ““The first thing for me to tackle is going to be violent crime.”
St. Louis has had national attention with being ranked the most dangerous city in the United States. According to Riverfront Times, St. Louis has a murder rate that is 20 times higher than the national average. In 2017, RFT cited that the City of St. Louis had seen more than 200 homicides.
Hayden elaborated in his interview with St. Louis Public Radio that he has identified an area between Goodfellow and Vandeventer running east and west, and Dr. King and West Florissant north and south where a lot of the violent crime has occurred over the last few years. He will pay particular attention to where there are open drug sales.
Hayden hopes to use more community policing to build trust with the communities and help cut down on future crime.
Hayden has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Washington University where he played football. He also has a master’s degree in management from Fontbonne University. Hayden is 55 years old and a lifelong resident of St. Louis City. He and his wife, Michelle, have been married for 28 years and have three daughters, Ashley, Kathryn, and Kaylynn.