MFPD award presented to retired police captain

Fire chief offers high praise for police captain’s service

Retired St. Louis County Police Department Capt. Chris Stocker, left, was among those recently honored by the Mehlville Fire Protection District with Making a Difference Awards. Stocker, of Oakville, is pictured with MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks.

Retired St. Louis County Police Department Capt. Chris Stocker, left, was among those recently honored by the Mehlville Fire Protection District with Making a Difference Awards. Stocker, of Oakville, is pictured with MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks.

By Gloria Lloyd

Capt. Chris Stocker began his career in the Affton Southwest Precinct as a patrol officer and three decades later, he recently retired as commander of the same precinct.

Longtime Oakville resident Stocker retired after 32 years with the St. Louis County Police Department, where he rose through the ranks to take command of the Affton precinct in July 2013. The Mehlville Fire Protection District honored Stocker with a Making a Difference Award for his efforts to assist the fire district during his time in Affton.

“I was fortunate enough to work hand-in-hand with Capt. Stocker for many years and have known no finer police captain or representative of the St. Louis County Police Department, or better friend,” MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks said as he presented the award. “There was never a time, night or day, that I couldn’t rely on Capt. Stocker for anything.”

When Hendricks needed a police perspective to give to the MFPD Board of Directors, he said, Stocker was who he called for advice every time.

“So even though he’s gone — well, he’s always still around — but I thought there’s no finer way to end a terrific career than to acknowledge him from the Mehlville Fire Protection District for so many things that he’s done and the lives that he’s touched for so many people in south St. Louis County,” Hendricks said.

Born in south city and raised in south county, Stocker lives in Oakville with his wife of 22 years, Lori, a fellow graduate of Mehlville High School. They have three sons, Chris, Chase and Clay, who all played soccer at Oakville High School.

The younger Chris is a field technician for EnviroAnalytics Group in Kansas, Chase is a marine biologist and Clay attends the University of Missouri-St. Louis on a soccer scholarship.

The now-retired captain — who attended the awards presentation in a suit rather than the uniform residents are more accustomed to seeing him wearing — will “always be Capt. Stocker, but technically he’s retired,” Hendricks noted.

But to some area soccer players, Stocker is better known as Coach Stocker. A member of the National Amateur Cup Champion team from St. Louis in 1978 and 1979, Stocker played soccer at Mehlville High School and James Madison University and began serving in 1997 as the assistant coach to Lou Fusz Soccer Club Coach Don Popovic.

Stocker started in the Affton precinct as a patrol officer immediately after he graduated from the police academy in 1983. After serving as a field training officer, he worked as an undercover detective in vice, drug enforcement, anti-fence and government corruption. He served as the department’s spokesman before being promoted to sergeant and working as an aide to the police chief.

When Stocker was promoted to lieutenant in 1998, he was assigned to the South County Precinct as watch commander, then commanded police records, municipal services and the Intelligence Unit before returning to the Affton Southwest Precinct in July 2013 as commander when former police Chief Tim Fitch promoted him to captain. He replaced now-Lt. Col. Michael Dierkes, who now commands special operations.

During Stocker’s career, he received at least 29 awards, commendations and letters of appreciation. He was named “Officer of the Year” by the Oakville Optimists in 1995 and was honored by the South County Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Community Service in 1992.

Last year, the Affton School District presented him with the Superintendent’s Award for his dedication to the school district. Stocker also served as a longtime board member of Do the Right Thing St. Louis.

As captain of the Affton Southwest Precinct, Stocker oversaw policing not just in Affton, Concord and other unincorporated areas of St. Louis County, but in cities including Green Park, Grantwood Village, Marlborough and Wilbur Park.

Under his tenure, year-on-year crime statistics went down in Affton from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014.

He was replaced as commander by Capt. Jeff Fuesting, who previously commanded the county’s police operations in Jennings.

As Hendricks presented Stocker with the MFPD award, the former commander joked that his retirement was a “minimal loss.” Hendricks was skeptical but agreed that things will still run smoothly in Affton.

“The new captain is going to be able to pick up right where Capt. Stocker left off,” the fire chief said.

Stocker gave presentations to Affton High School students about policing post-Ferguson, and promoted the community policing that has become the focus of intense efforts in north county by spearheading a movement to give drivers who committed minor traffic violations in south county “pantry tickets,” warnings that asked the driver to donate to Feed My People or the Affton Christian Food Pantry.

“If you feel inclined, please pay this forward by making a donation to one of our local food pantries listed below or a charity of your choosing,” the tickets read. “The Police Department realizes there are people in need in our community. We would encourage others to join us in supporting these vital organizations that routinely help those less fortunate … By receiving this warning, you are under no obligation to make a donation. The St. Louis County Police Department is trying to spread goodwill throughout the community we serve.”

In a captain’s message posted on the 3rd Precinct’s website in the wake of Ferguson, Stocker wrote, “I would also like to acknowledge the residents and business owners in the Affton Southwest Precinct for their continued support of the Police Department during this challenging time.

“The outpouring of support and well wishes reinforces why we chose this profession. This support from the community is instrumental in helping the officers to strive to maintain the highest level of professionalism and commitment that the citizens and businesses of the precinct deserve.”