Southeast Alumnus Working to Keep St. Louis Safe


St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson, left, presents the Assistant Chief badge to Col. Lawrence O’Toole, right.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 16, 2015 — Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Lawrence O’Toole of St. Louis, Mo., works hard every day to keep the streets of one of America’s largest cities safe. He is the newly appointed, assistant chief of police for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

“Being the Assistant Chief of Police for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is challenging and rewarding,” he says. “St. Louis like many other major cities is experiencing an increase in crime, particularly violent crime. In addition, budgets are tight and it is difficult ‘doing more with less.’ Although there are many challenges, there are also many opportunities, and it’s best to try to maintain a positive outlook.”

He says he has always had a passion for protecting his home.

“No one likes bullies, and I have a particular dislike for them. Criminals are nothing more than bullies who take advantage of the weak and unknowing. We have a great nation, state and city, but we need to work and be involved to keep it that way,” Lawrence says.

At Southeast, Lawrence earned a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a minor in business, and a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, in 1999.

“With my degree in criminal justice, I began my career in law enforcement,” he says.  “Policing in a large city is exciting work. What is exciting is the ability to help people and try to make a positive difference in their lives, many times at a low point in their lives. It is personally rewarding when you see firsthand your positive influence.”

Lawrence says he chose Southeast because it was close to home.

“I was born and raised in St. Louis and wanted to stay close to family and give back to my community. Southeast was close to St. Louis where I lived, and the criminal justice program had a good reputation,” he says. “Southeast contributed to my success by providing a solid educational foundation to continue building upon. My educational experience encouraged me to seek higher learning opportunities. Southeast exposed me to more diverse people with differing backgrounds and opinions. Southeast provided an educational and social network which to this day still pays dividends with the contacts I made within and outside my major.”

His favorite memory at Southeast was one for the record books in this region.

“I have many great memories of Southeast. The blizzard of 1979 has to be one of my top memories. The town came to a complete stop,” Lawrence says. “Walking was the only mode of transportation. The National Guard had to bring in food to the dormitories and all the bars closest to campus ran out of beer. Classes were cancelled for several days. Regardless, it was a fun learning experience for everyone.”

In his free time, Lawrence enjoys spending time with his brothers in arms.

“I enjoy staying abreast of the developments, activities and expansion of Southeast Missouri State University,” he says. “I enjoy being involved with different law enforcement fraternal organizations.”

To Southeast students he offers this advice:

“Do not forget where you came from. Remember the Copper Dome and the Gum Tree. If you ever have an opportunity to help someone who is less fortunate than you, take a few minutes to help them. Do it for the right reasons — not for recognition or any other benefit. Enjoy your time at Southeast, but remain focused on attaining your education. Remember your friends/classmates, and stay in contact with them after graduation. Educate yourself about integrity and ethics. Remember Integrity cannot be taken away from you. Don’t give it up.

“U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf said, ‘Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.’ Good luck!” he says.