Kenneth Gregory becomes the first black police chief in St. Louis County

click to enlarge Kenneth Gregory, left, becomes new police chief.  - DOYLE MURPHY

  • Kenneth Gregory, left, becomes new police chief.

St. Louis County has got a new police chief: Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Gregory.

In a press release, St. Louis County Police Department news that the board of police commissioners chose Gregory as the tenth chief to head the department. He is the first black police chief in the department’s 66 years of operation. Gregory has served as acting Chief of Police since Mary Barton left the department on July 30, 2021.

Gregory, who has served as interim chief for the past six months, worked with the board “on both day-to-day operational issues and long-term strategic decisions,” the commission said in a press release announcing the election. The board said its members were impressed with the acting chief’s decision-making process, community involvement, collaborative leadership style and his ability to convert departmental issues into “concrete action points.”

The board trusts Gregory’s “abilities to work together, strive for improvement, and protect the department’s successes and achievements,” according to its statement.

“Although we instructed him to stabilize the organization, the department has not only stabilized, but has grown in a positive direction under his command,” the press release read. “Thus, the board decided that it is in the best interest of the department and the St. Louis community to place Chief Gregory at the helm.”

Gregory has worked for St.  Louis County Police Department since 1979. - WITH POISONS ST.  LOUIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Courtesy St. Louis Police Department
  • Gregory has worked for St. Louis County Police Department since 1979.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page congratulated Gregory on Twitter. The Ethical Society of Police, which had raised public criticism of Barton’s leadership before her resignation, said Tuesday that Gregory “brings an abundance of institutional knowledge to the position.”

“We look forward to working together to phase out many practices and policies that have created barriers to employment for minorities and damaged conditions within marginalized communities,” the Ethical Society statement said.

St. The Louis County Police Department revealed on Twitter that the person who hired Gregory, Colonel Gil Kleinknecht, “must see Gregory take his old job.”

Gregory has been in the police department since 1979 in various roles, with his most recent position as deputy chief in 2018. In 2020, Gregory was knocked out by Barton in the police chief race, after Colonel Jon Belmar retired. Gregory served under Barton, the first female police chief, until her departure; Barton was chief for fifteen months, but resigned after accusations of racism and then accused the county of discrimination itself. The lawsuit was settled out of court and a $ 290,000 settlement was reached.

Gregory was also less involved in a 2017 lawsuit against St. Louis County Police Department, where an officer, Sergeant Keith Wildhaber, said he had been blocked from promotions because he is gay. The trial included an account of a former executive assistant who claimed she overheard Gregory quoting the Bible to another commander who called homosexuality an “abomination.”

In his testimony, Gregory denied the allegation, saying he had never quoted the Bible while on guard. The jury ruled that they did not believe then-boss Belmar or the top police, as they insisted there was no homophobia in the department, and awarded Wildhaber nearly $ 20 million. Page also announced that he would hire new members of the board as a result.

Gregory is now taking over the reins of the second largest police force in St. Petersburg. Louis region. On Tuesday, the commissioner’s board concluded their statement, saying they look forward to working with the new police chief to continue “directing the department into 21st century policing.”

“The security of the region and the department is of the utmost importance to this board, as well as the efforts to cultivate inclusivity and cooperation in our community,” the statement said. “Chief Gregory, the board and department will continue to put the people of St. Louis County and the St. Louis region and its well-being at the forefront.”

Follow Jenna on Twitter at @skrivesjenna. Send an email to the author at [email protected]

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