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St. Louis police chief visits north city neighborhood to mend fences

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden took his office to a north city neighborhood Monday in an effort to build better relationships with the community.

Tasty ice cream on a hot summer day. Happiness for kids who live on or near the 4900 block of Plover on the city's north side; courtesy of Chief Hayden and his mobile office visit.

“We acknowledge there are some trust issues that exist and so we are doing what we can first to walk across the bridge,” said Chief Hayden.

While interviewing for the chief job, Hayden promised to hit city streets that had high crime and or a high volume of calls. He wants to let residents know police are listening and trying to turn that into something impactful.

“I want (people) to know that we’re concerned and by sharing our concerns physically that people are a lot more about trust for what we are talking about or what our mission is,” he said.

Since becoming chief, the department repurposed a vehicle for Hayden, enabling him to do this citywide. And yes, it’s getting the right attention.

“Right now there is tension in our neighborhood with police and everything,” said Rachelle Garrett, a resident in the Walnut Park East neighborhood. “I’m glad they are here because I want them to see my children and see they have a mom and a home and a father and grandfather and take pride in our community. It’s not much, but its where we live.”

By showing up, talking with people, and handing out ice cream and Blues cards to kids, police feel they have already started a better relationship on Plover. Now they want people to feel comfortable calling them for anything.

Chief Hayden has done two of these local neighborhood visits and said he plans on many more to come.