ST. LOUIS, MO – Remember the St. Louis alderman who called a cop a jerk AND an asshole for his demeanor during a traffic stop? Well, Missouri officer associations sure do, and they would like to see the alderman resign from his position, pronto.
The calls for St. Louis Alderman Joe Vaccaro to resign are mounting following his Interstate 44 encounter with a police officer who had stopped him for driving 76 mph in a 60-mph zone. The Feb. 10 stop was recorded on the officer’s body camera and dashcam.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association is calling for Vaccaro to resign as alderman and step down as chairman of the Public Safety Committee. Police union President Jay Schroeder posted the statement on its Facebook page.
Here’s an excerpt:
“This man goes on television and flat out lies, going as far as to call the officer an asshole. When confronted with his bad behavior, Alderman Vaccaro doubled down and said the body camera footage vindicated him.
As anyone who has watched the video knows, it tells a different story.
“I find the behavior of aldermen Vaccaro very troubling. We as police officers have a very tough job and this officer did his job and did it correctly. Alderman Vaccaro was way out of line and his accusations have been shown to be completely exaggerated.
How can someone sit as the public safety chair when he treats his public servants this way? I hope the police department quickly moves forward with this investigation and exonerates this officer.”
Also weighing in is the Ethical Society of Police, a membership organization that represents mostly black officers, which on March 12 called for Vaccaro to resign from the Public Safety Committee. Here’s part of ESOP’s statement:
“As an elected official and chair over the Public Safety Community using language such as a****** and now jerk is again extremely unprofessional.
How can you sit as chair over a committee that makes decisions for public safety while you don’t respect those who work in public safety?
“The veteran is not a ‘jerk,’ he’s a hardworking officer who has dedicated himself to the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
The officer has a name and it’s not ‘jerk’ nor any other name that is derogatory. Alderman Vaccaro has demonstrated with behavior and speech that those who work in public safety are not important to him.”
Vaccaro said he had no comment on calls for his resignation. He did tell 5 On Your Side after the release of the video that he should not have called the officer an expletive but did think the officer was being a “jerk” to him during the traffic stop.
Vaccaro insisted that the officer should have been more courteous during the stop and should have given him more time to find his proof of auto insurance. He stated:
“Do your job but be courteous. He was a jerk.”
Vaccaro defended his comment, saying:
“You can clearly see he didn’t give me time to get my insurance card out before he gave me the ticket.”
Vaccaro, who had been ticketed for speeding and failing to show proof of insurance, revealed that he paid his fine so that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department would be able to release the video footage of the stop. He said the officer coughed on him and wasn’t wearing a mask. Going for broke, Vaccaro said:
“I believe the video speaks for itself and vindicates me.”
Records show the speeding ticket was amended to excessive vehicle noise, which carried a $207 fine. The ticket for failure to provide proof of insurance was dismissed.
Vaccaro also said that both he and the officer should apologize to one another.
In its March 8 statement, the police union demanded that the police department end an internal investigation into the officer’s conduct. Schroeder said:
“I call on the SLMPD to immediately stop this investigation, exonerate the officer and remove any reference of it from his employment file. I also ask Alderman Vaccaro to issue a public apology, take accountability for his actions, resign his chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and step down as an alderman of the City of St. Louis.”
Vaccaro was pulled over for going 16 mph over the speed limit near Jefferson, Missouri. The approximately 10-minute interaction begins with Vaccaro getting out of his pickup on the side of the interstate, prompting the officer to jump out of his patrol unit and tell him multiple times to get back into his car. The officer tells him:
“That’s how you get yourself killed.”
Likely fresh in the officer’s mind was an incident in which two St. Louis police officers were struck and injured during a highway traffic stop in January.
While walking up to Vaccaro’s vehicle, the officer coughs. He coughs again while speaking with Vaccaro through his open window and Vaccaro is seen lurching away from the window. Vaccaro said:
“He went back to get a mask, but he had already coughed all over me.”
The officer asks Vaccaro for his license and registration. Vaccaro searches his wallet for 22 seconds before the officer returns to his unit to write the tickets.
When the officer returns to the car, Vaccaro shows him proof of insurance on his cellphone. The officer tells him to take the ticket to court and show it to the judge, who would dismiss it.
Vaccaro then tells the officer he was being “very rude” and that he would be calling the colonel (St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden).
Vaccaro said he called Chief Hayden to demand that the officer be tested for COVID-19 because of the coughing and to complain that the officer was not courteous during the traffic stop. Vaccaro said Hayden offered “multiple times” to throw the tickets out.
Hayden called a press conference March 10 — hours after the department released the video footage — to deny that he had offered to fix the tickets for the alderman and to demand that Vaccaro apologize to the officer for calling him an asshole. Hayden told reporters:
“I’ve got the discretionary power as police chief to do such a thing (dismiss traffic tickets) in that regard. In this case, I did not have to act on that in any kind of way.”
Vaccaro has vowed to call Hayden to an upcoming Public Safety Committee meeting to have him discuss their phone call under oath.
The ESOP is solidly behind the officer, as well as Chief Hayden, stating:
“We as the Ethical Society of Police find the behavior and accusations by an elected official to tarnish the reputation of a veteran officer, a member of the Ethical Society of Police, as well as the Chief disturbing, extremely unprofessional and unacceptable.
“The body-cam video shows the officer being nothing less than professional and polite towards the Alderman.
“The Alderman, a Chair of the Public Safety Community, was found speeding in excess of 16 mph over the speed limit. After stopping, he exited his vehicle on a busy highway and was offended because he was given a command to return to his vehicle.
“The claim of racial discrimination and the Chief offering to fix the ticket is all false accusations and the Chief, as well as the officer, deserve public apologies.”
In its statement, the police union demanded that an internal investigation into the officer’s conduct be immediately halted. Schroeder wrote on Facebook:
“No matter the outcome of the IAD investigation, this allegation will permanently stain the police officer’s employment history. Meanwhile, the city politician whose obnoxious behavior caused the incident escapes without any accountability.
“I call on the SLMPD to immediately stop this investigation, exonerate the officer and remove any reference of it from his employment file.
“I also ask Alderman Vaccaro to issue a public apology, take accountability for his actions, resign his chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and step down as an alderman of the City of St. Louis.”
St. Louis alderman calls cop who pulled him over for speeding an ‘a-hole’ so the chief released the bodycam footage
March 3, 2022
ST. LOUIS, MO – Body camera footage has been released by the police chief of the St. Louis Police Department, showing a traffic stop involving St. Louis City Alderman Joe Vaccaro.
It’s one in which he threatened to call the officer’s supervisor and reminded the officer of his political affiliation.
The police chief said that the elected official owes his officer an apology after calling him an (expletive) on the news. Vaccaro told the I-Team that the traffic stop occurred around 9 a.m. on February 10th on Interstate 44 near Jefferson.
Vaccaro also told the I-Team that the video footage does not include the context of the situation, in which he said the officer was a “jerk” and “violated COVID policies.”
The officer wrote him two tickets. One for going 76 mph in a 60 mph zone and another for failing to produce proof of insurance.
After the incident, Vaccaro went to the media and complained that the officer behaved “rudely” towards him. He said in a statement to KMOV news:
“I think he’s just an (expletive).”
He also told KMOV that he thinks the officer picked him out of traffic because he was driving a new high-profile truck with fancy tires. He said:
“If I was going in a Porsche vs a Pinto, they would probably pick the Porsche out.”
The city elected official also complained about the officer’s conduct at his truck window. Vaccaro said:
“The guy is coughing all over me, with nowhere to run. I asked to have him tested, and I asked him to be tested for COVID and it looked like he had something going on.”
How can you sit as chair over a committee that makes decisions for public safety while you don't respect those who work in public safety?
Alderman Vaccaro should not be allowed to continue to sit as chair over the Public Safety Committee.https://t.co/WNxexcQKqR
— Ethical Society of Police – ESOP (@ESOP_STL) March 5, 2022
The alderman then told the officer to put his mask on. He said in a statement:
“I told him I was going to talk to the colonel and the chief.”
He claimed that he was not trying to get out of the tickets, which he did not. He stated that he wanted the police chief to release the body camera footage of the incident, stating:
“I would be fine with that tape coming out because you’ll see how rude he was. Not disrespectful, just rude.”
Another report from KMOV stated that Vaccaro claimed that St Louis Police Chief John Hayden called him after the traffic stop and told him he would “fix the tickets for him.” Chief Hayden did release the body camera footage, but he stated that he never offered to take care of Vaccaro’s tickets.
TRAFFIC TICKET DRAMA🚨🚓
The St. Louis police chief and city alderman are at odds following allegations of misconduct stemming from a traffic stop 3 weeks ago.
Vaccaro alleges Chief Hayden offered to waive the tickets. The chief denies today at a news conference.
— Stephanie Rothman (@srothmantv) March 4, 2022
The chief actually said that after reviewing the body camera footage, he believes the elected official owes the officer an apology for his comments to the media. He called the alderman’s behavior “disturbing, unprofessional, and unacceptable.” He added:
“I just think that was totally deplorable. That, hey, an officer is working hard. This officer almost has 20 years on him. He works hard every day and he gets defamed in that nature.”
Days after the incident, President of the St. Louis Officers Association Fraternal Order of Police Jay Schroeder called Vaccaro’s actions reprehensible. He said:
“This man goes on television and flat out lies, going as far as to call the officer an (expletive). When confronted with his bad behavior, Alderman Vaccaro doubled down and said the body camera video vindicated him. As anyone who watched [the] video knows, it tells a different story.”
“To add insult to injury, the police department issued an employee misconduct report against the officer alleging uncivil treatment.
No matter the outcome of the IAD investigation, this allegation will permanently stain the police officer’s employment history. Meanwhile, the city politician whose obnoxious behavior caused the incident escapes without any accountability.”
“I call on the SLMPD to immediately stop the investigation, exonerate the officer and remove any reference of it from him employment file.
I also ask Alderman Vaccaro to issue a public apology, take accountability for his actions, resign his chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and step down as an Alderman of the City of St. Louis.”
— Katie Kull (@KatieKull1) March 8, 2022
He concluded his statement by saying:
“The people deserve better. The police deserve better. The City of St. Louis deserves better. The State of Missouri deserves better.”
Vaccaro said he has no intention of apologizing to the officer and that he is still planning to file a formal complaint against the officer.
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