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St. Louis County Executive Sam Page to Black police commander passed over for chief: 'This police board will do what I tell them to do'

Audio recording reveals conversation between Page and Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, who is alleging Page passed him over for chief under pressure from campaign donors

CLAYTON, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has said in multiple interviews and statements that the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners operates independently of him – but, in an audio recording obtained by 5 On Your Side, Page told a Black police commander who is accusing him of passing him over for police chief that the board members do what he tells them to do.

That commander, Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, filed a complaint Friday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Page passed him over for police chief under pressure from campaign donors who did not want a Black police chief. Page appoints the members of the police board, and they pick the chief.

In response to Doyle’s allegations, Page issued a statement Friday insisting the police board members chose Mary Barton to be chief on their own and that Doyle was his pick for top cop in the county. Barton is the county’s first woman to lead the department, and she is white. 

Page did not respond to questions about allegations within Doyle’s EEOC complaint about whether campaign donors pressured him to pick a white chief.

Listen to the recording below:

Here is a transcription of the 24-second recording Doyle’s attorney released to 5 On Your Side:

“This police board will do what I tell them to do as long as you tell them it’s the right thing to do,” Page said.

“OK,” Doyle said.

“But I want to make sure it’s the right thing to do and you’re sure,” Page said.

“OK,” Doyle said.

“And we gotta make sure that there are some things we gotta fix, there are some things we gotta fix, but we gotta make sure we fix them at the right time,” Page said.

“Right,” Doyle said.

“If we fix them at the wrong time before we have the right replacement, we may have a bigger mess,” Page said.

“Right,” Doyle said.

In a statement to 5 On Your Side, Page wrote that the call was recorded June 23 when Page wanted to gauge whether Doyle was interested in overseeing a review of the police department paid for by the business community.

"I do believe Lt. Col. Doyle has the right perspective and experience to lead the review," Page wrote. "It was that perspective and experience that convinced me he would have been a good police chief and I did advocate for him."

That advocacy included introducing Doyle to "some prospective police board members," Page wrote. 

"Some of my supporters agreed with my advocacy for Lt. Col. Doyle to be police chief and some did not, but my support did not waiver," Page wrote. "Like Lt. Col. Doyle, I’m disappointed he was not selected as chief.

"The commissioners, whose independence is why I nominated them, chose someone else and I respect their unanimous decision."

Page’s office also released a voicemail of Dobson asking to meet with Page’s Chief of Staff Winston Calvert before the primary to try and reach a settlement. Page’s office also released a letter County Counselor Beth Orwick wrote accusing Dobson of trying to extort $3.5 million out of the county to settle the matter before the Aug. 4 primary and keep it private.

Every settlement agreement involving a governmental body is subject to the state’s Sunshine Law.

In his statement Monday, Page called Dobson's actions "alarming" and "appear to be extortion."

Dobson released his response letter to Orwick to 5 On Your Side and said he “categorically denies” that he did “anything improper” and used terms including “misrepresentations, omissions and patently false” to describe the allegations within Orwick’s letter.

He called it “a good faith offer” to negotiate a settlement, and said the $3.5 million number included lost wages, lost pension benefits and lost future earning capacity, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

“I stated that we had room to move with respect to our settlement demand,” he wrote. “Your representation that I ‘demanded that the money be paid within 16 days’ is patently false.”

Dobson did not provide 5 On Your Side with a copy of Doyle’s EEOC complaint but summarized its contents.

In it, Doyle alleges that Page had him “interview” with two police board members before Page nominated them to the board.

Doyle also claims Page told him on multiple occasions that he was his pick to lead the department, but some “powerful people with a lot of money” said they did not want Doyle to become chief because of his race.

St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch, who is also the former St. Louis County Police Chief, asked the County Council to launch an investigation into “possible interference with the duties of the Board of Police Commissioners by the Interim County Executive,” according to his Tweet.

Fitch said when he became Chief, then-County Executive Charlie Dooley did not have him meet with board members ahead of time and that he was so surprised by his appointment that he didn’t have his family at the board meeting when it was announced even though the other candidates did. Fitch and Dooley sparred numerous times during Fitch’s tenure, but Fitch said Monday he believes Dooley respected the independence of the board -- unlike Page.

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