St. Louis Chief Cites ‘Improper Release’ of Police Tactics

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden says city attorneys improperly made public information on police tactics and policies. He calls the action a “grave matter” that could jeopardize officer safety.

St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden says the “improper release” of police tactics and policies by city attorneys to a local activist is a “grave matter” that could jeopardize officer safety, the St.  Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The city’s Riverfront Times reported that Philip Weeks filed a sunshine-law request for the department’s policies, manuals and special orders and has published online the records he has received. Weeks says there is little evidence in the documents that the department practices de-escalation. Hayden said the police section of the city counselor’s office “improperly released unredacted policies and procedures” to Weeks.

Department spokeswoman Schron Jackson said the documents Weeks published includes information about equipment and tactics used by specialized units, including the SWAT team. “Some of this procedural information would include tactical responses to certain types of incidents; thus making this release of information an officer safety concern,” Hayden wrote. He said the department is working with the city counselor’s office to determine what “remedial legal action can be taken with respect to this release” and will be addressing any “tactical vulnerabilities created by this release.” Other departments, including St. Louis County, publish their policies and procedures online. Weeks said his effort to obtain records began after the protests following a judge’s decision to acquit a former St. Louis police officer of murder for a 2011 on-duty shooting.