ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden takes to social media to address questions and concerns about violent crime in the city.
This is the first time Chief Hayden has used social media for something like this. But questions are being raised because of what the chief didn’t do.
Hayden’s video was released Wednesday morning on the city police department’s YouTube channel. The near 7-minute video focuses on city murders and fighting violent crime.
Hayden says in the last four days, there have been at least 19 shootings with 18 victims, including 7 who were murdered.
So far this year, there have been 89 murders in the city, up from 83 at this same time last year.
Hayden says at least half of the city’s murders are drug-related, some 35 percent stem from personal disputes, and 15 percent are domestic in nature.
The chief says 40 people have either been arrested or are wanted in connection with murders so far this year.
Hayden believes police are doing all they can but the department is nearly 150 officers short.
“It certainly seems that in recent weeks on many days we have gone from one shooting scene to the next,” Hayden said. “Our biggest challenge is always and remains to be a lack of witness participation.”
“We need a much larger applicant pool in short order, which I believe will only come by way of the repeal of the residency requirement.”
Fox 2 reached out to ask Chief Hayden about the video but were told he wasn’t available. We thought we might find him at an aldermanic public safety committee meeting where a curfew bill for minors was being discussed.
The hope is that the bill sponsored by Alderman Brandon Bosley will help make the streets safer. But neither Hayden nor Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards were there.
“(Chief Hayden) may be unresponsive for a lot of different reasons,” Bosley said. “He may not consider this something that is a particular priority because he has something to deal with today.”
The head of the public safety committee, Alderman Joe Vaccaro, says Hayden’s video didn’t allow for questions.
“When you put a statement out saying ‘this is what we’re doing,’ ‘this is what we need,’ somebody might say, ‘Well, what can we do different?’” Vaccaro said.
The department released a statement saying: “This video was created with the intention of updating the public. This video was not created as a press briefing. This is an update so that the citizens of St. Louis can hear from the chief first-hand.”
We’re told Edwards was not at the meeting because he was at another meeting away from city hall.