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New SLMPD Chief On Developing Relationships, Major Issues

(St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

Sam Dotson is the new chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

He comes to the position after spending about twenty years with the Department.

Dotson joined host Don Marsh for a wide-ranging discussion.  They talked about taking the reins of the St. Louis Police Department as it prepares to transition to local control and about making the force one which is fully up to speed on 21st century policing practices.

“We’re at a 30 year low for crime in the city of St. Louis,” Dotson said. "As I settle into the job, I develop more connections with the officers. I have a responsibility to make sure they come home."

Dotson and Marsh also addressed recent issues in the news including the debate over whether to arm school teachers, ban assault rifles, and make marijuana possession a municipal offense.

Gun Control

Dotson said reinstating a ban on assault rifles needs to be part of the conversation about gun control.

He said in 18 years on the force, he’s never seen a situation where an assault rifle is appropriate.  Dotson also said he would like to see a ban on high-capacity magazines.

“There are some pistols that accept high capacity magazines, and when you go to a scene of a shooting, or a homicide, and there are 15 or 20 shell casings laying on the ground – no space for those in an urban environment,” Dotson said.

Dotson also expressed support for closing a loophole that allows firearms to be purchased at gun shows without a background check.


Chief Dotson said he’s not sure if he can support an effort by the St. Louis Board of Alderman to make marijuana possession a municipal crime rather than a state offense.  Low-level possession, he said, may be better tried in a city court but he said he’s concerned about an exception for medical marijuana.

“Instead of creating laws to the exception, let’s focus on enforcing the laws that we have, and making sure that we have a process that allows the officers to identify individuals that violate the law, has a system that has consequences, and then maybe we can put some officers back on the street while they’re doing their job,” Dotson said.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann contributed to this report.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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