Black police officers organization demand Sam Dotson's resignation | St. Louis Public Radio

Black police officers organization demand Sam Dotson's resignation

Jul 8, 2016

The organization representing black police officers in the city of St. Louis is demanding that St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson resign.

Sgt. Heather Taylor, the president of the Ethical Society of Police, made the demand Thursday night at a forum set up to tell people about the disparities in the police and fire departments.

"Based off of numerous disparities with transfers, policies with promotions, subjective discipline and an overall disconnect from the community that we've seen, and we've had officers advise us of, we are asking now that Chief Dotson resign immediately," Taylor told the crowd, which applauded her call.

Tension between the Ethical Society of Police and the chief is nothing new. In November, the group declared it had no confidence in Dotson, citing a lack of a crime fighting plan and a lack of diversity in the department.

Taylor said the group met with the chief many times after the November vote.

"But our membership, and other officers are struggling. Our community is still dealing with policies and practices that are not lowering crime," she said.

Dotson said he will not step down.

"That would mean that I have failed, or that I'm not capable of doing the job," he said. "What I do know is that we have a lot of successes. We have the most diverse police department in the state of the big agencies. We have hiring processes controlled by the civil service administration. We have promotions that are controlled by civil service. We have lots of things in place that are good and strong. I get that we can always do better. Let’s work on making them better instead of throwing stones."       

FIRE, Ethical Society team up

The forum, at the New Northside Conference Center, was the first in a series of forums that the Ethical Society will  hold with the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality (FIRE), which represents black firefighters. The two groups have united to push for greater diversity.

The partnership is possible now because the police department is under city control, said Capt. Abram Pruitt, the president of FIRE.

"Our promotional processes, our discipline processes, those are the things where we are the same. So it makes sense for us to pair up," he said. "Fire and police, we do the job together when we’re in uniform. We need to take this partnership out of uniform as well."

The informational forums are just the first step, Pruitt said. He said it's important that people understand what's going on in the police and fire departments.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann