Updated September 1 at 4:25 p.m. with response from Gardner — The St. Louis chief of police says none of his department’s leadership was involved in developing a list of officers who will no longer be allowed to bring cases to court, contradicting claims of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
“There is no indication that the list was properly vetted,” Chief John Hayden said in a statement released Saturday.” This list is an unnecessary overreach which would be better handled on a case-by-case basis.”
Six of the officers no longer work for the department, Hayden said, and while several others had been investigated in the past, they were cleared of all wrongdoing.
Responding to Hayden later on Saturday, Gardner said she had “documented communications” between her office and Maj. Michael Sack, who is the Commander of Professional Standards.
“In fact, Major Sack has even expressed his appreciation to us for helping to hold ‘his guys accountable,’” Gardner said, adding that “the credibility standards in my office go far beyond whether someone has been cleared of formal criminal charges.”
Gardner said she planned to reach out to Hayden, Sack and public safety director Jimmie Edwards on Tuesday to arrange a meeting to “address this matter and move on with the important work we have to do on behalf of the people of the city of St. Louis”
Edwards and Gardner had previously spoken on Friday about the need to cooperate. Gardner called that conversation with Edwards “productive,” and said she expressed her “disappointment that someone in the police department felt it necessary to leak this information to the media, which has resulted in fostering misinformation and fear in the community.”
Gardner confirmed the existence of the list, first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Thursday, calling it her responsibility to defend the integrity of the criminal justice system.
Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said Thursday the union’s attorneys were exploring possible legal action, and urged Gardner to ensure the list remained private.
“We’re demanding that an explanation be given to the police department and to these officers as to how their name ended up on this list and how they get off this,” he said. “It’s a little dangerous. There’s an explanation without any context here.”
The U.S. Supreme Court allows prosecutors to exclude individual officers whom a court has found to be dishonest, Roorda said, but it’s unheard of for a circuit attorney to put 28 officers on the list at one time without due process.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who was in St. Louis Thursday for a Senate campaign stop, said he was “deeply concerned” about Gardner’s move. He questioned whether it might result in criminals not being prosecuted.
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann