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As Mayor, Andrew Jones Would Have The Police Department’s Back

Republican candidate for mayor Andrew Jones speaks at a mayoral forum at Sheldon Concert Hall on Feb. 22, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Andrew Jones, photographed at a candidates' forum in 2017, is making his second run for mayor.

Andrew Jones thinks it’s time to unleash the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The utility executive, one of four candidates running for mayor in the March 2 primary, said he believes Police Chief John Hayden’s crime-fighting efforts have been held back by political considerations.

“He's handcuffed because the direction comes from the mayor,” Jones said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. “For instance, if they go out and apprehend a criminal who's violent, and it escalates up to the point where this criminal may end up losing their life [while police are] trying to apprehend them, they don't want to be involved with it, because it wouldn't be politically expedient for them. We're saying that we're going to hold everyone accountable under my administration. And if something escalates, and everyone operates through policy, it will be my absolute honor and discharge of my duty to get out front to say, ‘Our officers did a phenomenal job.'”

A recent study found that St. Louis police officers killed more people per capita than any other department in the nation’s 100 largest cities. Asked about that statistic, Jones didn’t waver.

“I think we need to champion those who are out here doing a phenomenal job,” he said. “And we must also highlight the fact that — I believe, and I think the data shows that — the police are being scapegoated. ... We have people who are doing a great job, a phenomenal job, and they're not getting the support that they necessarily need to move the city forward.”

An East St. Louis native, Jones grew up in a working-class family and credits his parents for instilling discipline in him. He went on to graduate from college and earn two graduate degrees, including an MBA from Washington University’s Olin School of Business. He’s proud that he “moved up from washing cars at Ameren” to a successful career there before taking a job as the vice president of business development and marketing at Southwestern Electric Cooperative.

Jones lives in the Botanical Heights neighborhood in the city’s central corridor. He’s never held elected office, and he said he was inspired to run for mayor four years ago after growing concerned about the direction of the city. He won the Republican nomination, and took 17% of the vote in the general election, finishing a distant second to Lyda Krewson.

She is now retiring, and Prop D has made city elections nonpartisan. Jones said he welcomes having his platform speak for him, not his party affiliation. He hopes city voters will be willing to give an outsider a chance — before what he sees as the point of no return.

“You can't do it with the existing political bodies that have been here for this whole time,” he said of attempts to turn things around for St. Louis. “The only way that you change politicians is that you hold them accountable by voting them out of the office.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

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