ST. LOUIS – The ugly side of racial hate in St. Louis was on full display at city hall Monday.
The aldermanic hearing followed the release of a study that accused some 23 current St. Louis police officers of using social media to make racist and anti-Islamic statements.
“If you’re shocked by this type of behavior in the city of St. Louis then we are being naïve, it’s been in our face, we understand it and we have to fix it,” said Judge Jimmie Edwards, St. Louis Public Safety director.
Aldermen questioned Edwards, Police Chief John Hayden, and the director of city personnel, Richard Frank, about what’s being done after a study determined city cops possibly posted objectionable Facebook messages.
They said three of the officers with the most egregious posts were placed on desk duty. Chief Hayden admitted the investigation and justice would take some time.
“I’m not sure how long it will take,” Hayden said. “We’re more interested in being fair as well as being thorough, it could take a while.”
Frank said they’ll begin a training program this week for 60 to 70 police sergeants concerning social media and harassment.
“Thereafter, we will be going through and providing a two-hour program for police officers of all different ranks,” he said.
Residents also had a chance to speak out.
“You have officers who may not be racists but encourage violence against protestors and journalists,” said Heather Demien.
Bill Monroe, a former police officer, said the department should be cleared of problem police.
“These police officers who are charged with these things – fire them! Not only fire them, fix it to where they never enter law enforcement again,” he said.
The work to fix the problem has just begun.
“I can’t change their attitude. I can’t change their hearts. But I can certainly change their behavior,” Edwards said.