ST. LOUIS • A resolution calling on Police Chief Sam Dotson to resign if he files paperwork to run for mayor was tabled without discussion during Friday’s Board of Aldermen meeting after it was tripped up on a procedural hurdle.
The resolution’s sponsor, 17th Ward Alderman Joseph Roddy, needed 19 votes before the measure could be discussed during the meeting. He got only 18.
It means the resolution will now be debated and voted on by members of the Public Safety Committee, who can either kill it or forward it to the full board for a vote.
Alderman Sharon Tyus, of the 1st Ward, cast one of the three “present” votes that prevented debate on the resolution.
The two other “present” votes came from Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr., 3rd Ward, and Alderman Shane Cohn, 25th Ward. Neither could be reached immediately after the meeting.
“I believe the resolution was done wrong,” Tyus said. “I agree with the sentiment, but I believe the police chief should be fired by the appointed authority,” refering to the city’s director of public safety.
Roddy said he was disappointed by the outcome. “All this means is that this media circus will go on for another week,” Roddy said minutes after holding an impromptu news conference.
Roddy, who said he liked the chief, described his resolution as “a warning shot” to Dotson that state law allows for the Board of Aldermen to remove him from office.
“I wanted to send a clear message,” Roddy said. “My sense is that it’s eventually going to pass.”
Roddy, along with Mayor Francis Slay, has called for Dotson to step down after the chief’s announcement last week that he’s running for mayor.
Board President Lewis Reed, who also is running for mayor, said that either Dotson should resign or Slay should demote him.
Critics of Dotson argue that a city such as St. Louis, which struggles with violent crime, cannot afford a part-time police chief.
Others have also argued that it’s inherently awkward for business owners and potential donors to turn down a fundraising request from the person who controls which businesses and which areas of town get attention from police.
Dotson has maintained that campaigning for mayor will not change how he does his job. He said he would confine his political work to the times when he was not working and wouldn’t wear his uniform or drive a police car when doing campaign activities.
He has also said he will stop campaigning immediately when pressing law enforcement matters arise.
Along with Reed, who is the board president, two other candidates running for mayor voted “yes” to debate the resolution on Friday. They were Alderman Antonio French, 21st Ward, and Alderman Lyda Krewson, 28th Ward.