Lt. Col. Michael Sack makes his remarks after being selected as interim police chief for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, in St. Louis, on Wednesday. Sack, a 27-year veteran of the police department, will succeed St. Louis police chief John Hayden, who plans to retire in mid June. A nationwide search for a new police chief will begin. Standing with Sack is St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
May 18 (UPI) -- St. Louis officials said police chief John Hayden will retire June 18 with Lt. Col. Michael Sack to take over on an interim basis amid a nationwide effort to hire a replacement.
Dan Isom, the city's interim director for public safety, made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference, thanking Hayden for his service and friendship.
"There's no doubt chief Hayden deserves this retirement," he said. "I'm incredibly grateful for the dedication of service of chief Hayden and his commitment to our city and also commitment to the smooth transition to the next police chief and throughout this search."
Hayden, 59, had announced last fall his intent to retire in February but stayed on in order to aid the city in finding his replacement.
Isom said that the outgoing police chief has been working to ensure the city has "strong hands on the reins" if an interim police head was needed amid the police chief search, which is why he has appointed Sack to the position.
"He has shown that he will stand for accountability for the St. Louis police department and help foster trust between police and the community," he said. "I know Col. Sack will continue to give us stability and leadership in this interim phase."
Sack joined the department in 1994 and has commanded the Crimes Against Persons, the Central Patrol Division and the Bureau of Community Policing as well as the Bureau of Professional Standards.
He graduated from the Police Academy and holds a bachelor's degree in communication and two master's degrees, one in divinity and other in business and organization security management.
Sack said he appreciates the confidence shown him by the appointment and that he is confident he will be able to carry out his new responsibilities without issue.
"Our focus will continue to be, as it has been, on violent crime," he said. "Not just creating a wide swath through a community to effect arrests that can cause more harm than good but identifying particular bad actors, developing cases and presenting those cases to the circuit attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office for prosecution, removing those individuals creating violence within the community."
Hayden, in brief remarks, said he is confident that Sack will be able to lead the department.
"This has been an honor of a lifetime to serve as chief of police for this city," he said. "I love this city. I'll always be here. And I'm looking forward to watching Col. Sack fill the role, and I'm sure -- very sure -- that he can take the reins with authority."
Isom explained the city has entered an agreement with firm The Boulware Group to conduct a nationwide search for the next police chief.
Mayor Tishaura Jones told reporters that a previous search to fill the position "had some issues," as it was not as transparent as they would have liked nor did it cast a wide enough net but that Sack may end up being the preferred candidate.
"It very may well be that after this next search he does become chief but we want to make sure we keep our promise to the community to be transparent and to present all of the candidates for various town halls and neighborhood meetings," she said.
The Ethical Society of Police, an organization founded by Black officers to combat corruption and racism, issued a statement, stating it respects Sack "for his rank and the person he is."
"We support interim chief Sack yet we will hold him accountable for our community and our officers during this time as interim chief as we've held chief Hayden and previous chiefs accountable," it said. "We had open lines of communication with chief Hayden and expect that will continue with chief Sack."