CLAYTON, Missouri — The former St. Louis County police lieutenant fired over allegations of racial profiling says his accusers lied, and he wants his job back.
Patrick "Rick" Hayes, 44, was fired last week for allegedly directing officers under his command to profile blacks at a shopping mall and a Wal-Mart store in south St. Louis County. A six-month internal investigation began with an anonymous tip from another county officer.
Hayes, a 20-year veteran, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/14c6o8M ) in an interview published Friday that he did not direct any racial profiling, his words were twisted and he's appealed his dismissal to the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners. The commissioners will hold a public trial on whether to reinstate Hayes.
"I took an oath to protect and serve the citizens of this county, and up until this point, it has been an honor to do that," Hayes told the newspaper. "But to have it taken away in this manner with this type of investigation should come as an alarm to everybody in this community.
"I want my job back, because I did not do this," he said.
Police Chief Tim Fitch declined comment because the case is in litigation.
Hayes believes Fitch took "the easy way out," rather than potentially firing multiple officers he claims conspired against him.
Hayes said he was sent to the Affton precinct a year ago to address problem officers who did little work. They didn't like his shake-up tactics, including revoking take-home patrol car privileges, he said.
An anonymous letter from a county officer to Fitch and Lt. Col. Ken Gregory, who oversees patrol, dated Dec. 24 alleged that Hayes ordered officers to focus on arresting blacks, and said he used phrases such as "Let's have a Black Day today," ''Stop everybody with a tan" and "Stop everybody black at the mall."
The writer claimed Hayes told black officers, "Not you guys, you're the good ones."
Hayes told the Post-Dispatch he told one black officer he was "one of the good guys" after the officer asked advice about arresting other blacks. He also said he did direct officers to watch for blacks with Illinois license plates because that was the description officers were given of a group of thieves. He denied the other claims.
Hayes said he has taught courses in police racial sensitivity at Jefferson College in Jefferson County. He said he has sponsored a Kenyan immigrant on his path to citizenship.
The NAACP's St. Louis chapter president, Adophus Pruitt, said that since news of Hayes' termination, at least five people alleging racial profiling have come forward from that precinct. Pruitt said he will ask for an FBI investigation if their stories prove credible.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com