The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has a new police chief: 30-year department veteran Major John Hayden.

According to the St. Louis American, Mayor Lyda Krewson and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards announced his appointment late this week. 

Hayden had led the North Patrol Division since September 2015; he recently said that with the division, he patrolled “the most dangerous streets in the city.”

“I have a stellar reputation,” Hayden said at a forum in December with other participating police chief finalists. “Reputation is not what you say about yourself but what people say about you.”

Hayden has a rich background, including serving as commander over Internal Affairs and executive aide to former police chief Joe Mokwa.

“[Hayden's] track record shows that he has a background of disciplining officers fairly and a history of doing what’s right,” noted Sergeant Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police. “He’s probably punished more officers for doing wrong than any other on our department, justifiably. That is the one thing our community is calling for – accountability.”

Community-police relations have taken a toll in recent years, and have been particularly bad this year following mass protests over the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. Stockley was accused of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith, and then planting a gun at the scene of the death.

Police officers chanted "Whose streets? Our streets!" during the protests and mass arrests that followed the acquittal, and are facing lawsuits for being overly aggressive

Hayden will be tasked with rebuilding the community's trust in police. “Healing the broken relationship is going to come one way,” he said. “By spending some more quality time with the people we serve.”

The new chief is from St. Louis, and believes that will help him with this task. “I love this city,” Hayden said. “I’ve never left. I’ve been here the whole time.” 

Hayden's involvement with a scandal earlier this year makes some wonder if he will be able to convince the department's critics that St. Louis police officers look out for all of the city's citizens. 

The new chief stood by Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole when he made a public statement that black off-duty police officer Officer Milton Green was shot “during the exchange of gunfire.”

The truth was later revealed: Officer Green was actually shot by a white police officer when Green approached the white cop at a crime scene to assist him.

His supporters, however, say that Hayden being a part of the scandal shows that he is an officer who is familiar with all parts of the department.

“John Hayden knows the city and the players,” a statement released by The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression read. “That can be a blessing and a curse. We will be challenging him to imagine and create a new type of police department for St. Louis rather than continuing the one he’s been immersed in.” 

Activists that WOKV Radio spoke with were happy that Hayden won out over finalists that they felt might be less progressive; activist John Chasnoff called Hayden "fair and decent." 

Chasnoff said that he remains cautiously optimistic that Hayden will bring needed change. "We're going to be pushing him to take the department in a different direction and we hope he is responsive to hearing that from the community."