Ferguson swears in former St. Louis County Lt. Col. Troy Doyle as new police chief
The Ferguson Police Department has a new chief after swearing in former St. Louis County Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle on Monday.
Doyle said his priorities include collaborating with the Ferguson community, enforcing traffic laws, working with neighboring municipalities to address crime and utilizing new software to analyze crime data and patterns.
“Community engagement is an indispensable factor in the success of any police department, not just this police department,” Doyle said. “Without the support and cooperation from the community, we cannot carry out our duties effectively.”
One of Doyle’s primary focuses will include following the consent decree that settled a lawsuit between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice. The decree requires the Ferguson department make significant structural reforms after findings that it discriminated against Black residents.
“Failure to meet these expectations could result in severe consequences for our city and community as a whole,” Doyle said. “I understand this will not be an easy task, but it’s one that one must undertake to ensure that our community is safe and secure.”
Doyle’s experience includes running the county jail and the North County precinct. Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones also said his tenure leading the Jennings Police Department and several task forces made him a strong candidate.
His appointment comes two years after he filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the county. It alleges that County Executive Sam Page backed out of a decision to support him for police chief because of his race after Chief Jon Belmar announced his resignation.
He replaces Capt. Harry Dilworth, who served as the interim chief after Frank McCall announced his resignation in February. McCall was named chief in 2021.
Ferguson has had about half-dozen chiefs since a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said his office is confident in Doyle’s efforts to address the challenges of the decree.
“The average police chief across the country, the average stay is about three years, and so Ferguson is within that range,” Bell said. “There are additional challenges with the consent decree. I think they’re beneficial at the end of the day, but it does offer challenges.”
Police chiefs across the country have been resigning for a variety of reasons in recent years, accelerating turnover rates, said Darrel Stephens, co-director of a police research institute at Florida State University. Stephens said that police chiefs on average would stay in a city for six years and that less time in a city would lead to fewer long-term changes.
“Three years is totally insufficient, particularly places that have consent decrees like Ferguson or other communities that are calling for major changes to take place,” Stephens said.