In a recent Post-Dispatch editorial, editorial writer Kevin Horrigan wrote what could have been a positive story about in-car cameras and the Department’s efforts to be more transparent. Instead Mr. Horrigan pinned an editorial to further support the newspaper’s position on local control. Read below my letter to the Editor of the Post-Dispatch.
It's unfortunate for St. Louis that the Post-Dispatch has a monopoly on
print media. Monopolies are dangerous for free societies and economic
markets in a democracy. Free speech must have a diversity of voices.
It's clear that the Post, particularly editorial writer Kevin Horrigan,
has a position in favor of local control. That is a matter for the
people to decide and they will have that opportunity in November. The
problem with the Post’s monopoly position is that instead of educating
and informing the public on the best governing practices in the wake of
local control, the Post's strategy instead has been to spin issues and
present false information to discredit the Police Department and it's
employees who perform the most difficult job in society - urban policing
- to make its case for local control.
In the papers most recent article about the St. Louis Police
Department's in-car cameras, Post editorial writer, Kevin Horrigan sank
to a new low. In his attempt to further support his position on local
control, he spins a positive into a negative and takes his editorial
license as authorization to simply provide false information. How Mr.
Horrigan can take an article explaining the benefits of the Departments
in-car camera system, which is the height of transparency and
accountability, and turn it into a negative by slamming the department
which is under state control is beyond explanation. As much as I believe
the in-car camera system will ultimately make the Police Department an
even better organization, I am sure it would take a while for Post
reporters, or any other profession for that matter, to accept management
video recording their entire work day. Significant changes in
transparency and accountability are difficult in every organization, not
just the St. Louis Police Department, and have nothing to do with being
under State control.
In his effort to spin the Department's self evaluation and improvement
into another reason for local control Mr. Horrigan fails to point out
that as a Major I recommended to the then Chief and Board that the
Police Department commission an officer involved shooting review. The
request was approved and the recommendations of the report, which he
cites in the article, were implemented by the current administration.
However, Mr. Horrigan does not present this as a positive change, but
instead chooses to dwell on, “how it was.” Any organization, including
police departments, that work to discover weakness and better methods
for improvement, and make the necessary policy changes to support those
improvements, is a sign of a healthy and progressive organization.
Mr. Horrigan further pushes his agenda for local control by including
another unrelated issue to an article regarding in-car cameras, by
falsely stating that I can increase the fire power of the force without
the approval of the “state appointed” police Board of Commissioners.
This is simply untrue and calls into question the integrity of Mr.
Horrigan's interviewing ethics and principles. I happily agreed to Mr.
Horrigan’s request for an interview regarding the in-car camera system.
Although, he used none of my comments for his article he at least gave
me an opportunity to respond and explain the Police Department's
position. However, Mr. Horrigan never once asked me about the use of
force review or the fire power of the force that he writes about in his
in-car camera article. I can only guess that the reason Mr. Horrigan
did not ask me about these issues is because he would have been faced
with the truth and could not deny what he was printing was false.
Since the multiple homicides shooting at ABB, the Board has been
informed on several occasions that the Department was evaluating the
need to change our weapon systems. A presentation was made to the Board
and individual Board members were consulted about the issue. The Post
Dispatch reporter Christine Byers previously wrote an article about this
very issue. Additionally, both rifles and shotguns were previously
approved by the Board. The request and explanation for accepting the
donation of weapons was included in the Board packet provided prior to
the May Board meeting. The weapons had not been purchased or approved
prior to the Board meeting. Missouri state law requires that government
business be done in open meetings and not discussed, debated, and voted
on behind closed doors. A presentation was made to the Board at the
May meeting explaining why the police department wanted new weapons with
a recommendation. The Board has the authority and responsibility to
deny any request, amend recommendations, or table decisions and request
more information if they believe it is not in the best interest of the
Police Department and/or the citizens of St. Louis. They decided to
approve the recommendation – the Board, not the Chief. The Department
followed that rule of law which promotes transparency and
At best this is yet another example of publishing false and unverified
information to the public, and at worst out right lies. It’s
unfortunate that an article that began as a means to inform the public
of some positive changes for the Police Department and the citizens of
St Louis - the in-car camera system - turned out to be yet another
public editorial criticism of the Department based on the publication of
false information and/or outright untruths which unfortunately, due to
the Posts monopoly of the print media in St Louis is dependent on the
Post to rectify the false information.
Colonel Daniel Isom
Chief of Police