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Koster Announces Line-Up For Law-Enforcement Roundtable At UMSL

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, center, with Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, right, at area high school during height of unrest in Ferguson.
Missouri Attorney General's Office | File photo

Most of the region’s major political and law-enforcement figures are taking part in a special roundtable that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has set up to discuss how to increase the number of minorities going into law enforcement.

The three-hour session begins at 9 a.m., Wed., Oct. 1 in the J.C. Penney Conference Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Wednesday’s roundtable will be followed by a similar gathering in Kansas City on Oct. 14.

The discussion will focus on the fact, well documented in recent weeks, that many area municipalities with large minority populations still have law-enforcement agencies that are predominantly white.

Some officials blame the disparity on a lack of minorities going into law enforcement. Among other things, the roundtable will discuss whether that is true and, if so, what can be done to combat it.

In Ferguson, for example, only three of the city’s 50-plus police officers are black – even though two-thirds of the city’s population is African-American.

"Our hope is to begin identifying ways to increase respect and communication between law enforcement and the communities they protect," said Koster in a statement. "Our roundtable includes local leaders in government, law enforcement, education, and community empowerment.”

“It is important to identify challenges faced by law enforcement agencies seeking to diversify, as well as barriers experienced by young adults considering law enforcement as a career to benefit their communities," he added. "This is one way the frustration expressed on the streets of Ferguson can bring positive change in the policing of our urban communities.”

The confirmed roundtable participants include:

  • St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley
  • St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
  • State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City
  • State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis
  • Dan Isom, head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety and former St. Louis police chief
  • Capt. Ron Johnson, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Command Officer, Troop C
  • St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson
  • St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar
  • St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward
  • Esther Haywood, St. Louis County NAACP
  • Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis NAACP
  • Michael McMillan, head of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • Ruby Curry, interim president, Florissant Valley Community College
  • St. Louis School Superintendent Kelvin Adams
  • Richard Frank, personnel director, St. Louis
  • Clarence Hines, law enforcement instructor
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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