VINITA PARK, Mo. — The fallout from a Black St. Louis County police commander's discrimination complaint against St. Louis County Executive Sam Page continued Tuesday in north St. Louis County.
About 30 people including clergy members, politicians from across St. Louis County and police chiefs largely from north St. Louis County gathered for a press conference at Vinita Park City Hall, saying Lt. Col. Troy Doyle was more qualified to be the new police chief than Mary Barton, who is white.
In St. Louis County, a five-member police board picks the chief.
Page nominated four of the five members on the board, which chose Mary Barton to be chief in March.
Board Chairman William “Ray” Price has not returned phone calls seeking comment from 5 On Your Side.
On Friday, Doyle filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Page ordered the board not to pick him as chief because campaign donors did not want a Black police chief.
Page fired back, saying Doyle was his pick for chief, but that the board chose someone else because they operate independently of him. Page also wrote that Doyle’s attorney’s actions “appear” to be extortion after attorney Jerome Dobson met with county leaders offering to settle for $3.5 million ahead of the Aug. 4 primary, in which Page is facing three opponents.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Darryl Gray of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, said the issue isn’t about politics.
“It is our contention that what influenced this decision were outside influences that made a decision that we have a Black county prosecutor, we don’t need a Black police chief,” Gray said. “Mr. Page and the police commission have got to answer that question: Was Doyle overlooked because he is Black?”
Wesley Bell, who is Black, is St. Louis County’s prosecuting attorney.
On Monday, Dobson provided 5 On Your Side with an audio recording in which Page tells Doyle, “The police board does what I tell them to do.”
Vinita Park Mayor James McGee also repeated Page’s recorded words at the press conference in his opening remarks.
“The Police Commission Board will do what I tell them to do,” McGee said.
He and Gray insisted the press conference was not political.
“St. Louis County, if you can hear me, when Castle Point was in trouble, you called on Lt. Col. Troy Doyle,” McGee said. “St. Louis County, if you can hear me, when Jennings had issues, you called on Lt. Col. Troy Doyle.
"St. Louis County, if you can hear me, when you had troubles in the jail, you called on Lt. Col. Troy Doyle. This is not about politics. You had a person that was qualified to be the next St. Louis County chief of police. If he was qualified to take care of those problems when that position come open, you reach down and get a subordinate and promote her over a Lieutenant Colonel that was well qualified.”
Gray, who is a political advisor to the clergy coalition, said religious organizations cannot endorse a candidate.
“For us, this is not a matter of someone’s candidacy, but seeking truth,” Gray said. “We’re not anti-Sam Page, we’re not anti-Jake Zimmerman, we’re not anti-Mark Montavoni, we’re pro Troy Doyle.”