In mid-December, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page touted his police department’s promotion of Keith Wildhaber as a key step toward thoughtful change within the department. The news that Wildhaber will lead a new diversity and inclusion unit came in the wake of a $20 million verdict in Wildhaber’s favor — after a jury agreed that county police had discriminated against the gay officer because of his sexual orientation.
But the Ethical Society of Police, which represents many black officers in the St. Louis region, soon put out a statement that was significantly less enthusiastic.
“The head of the Diversity and Inclusion Unit should have a strong history of being a champion for racial diversity, inclusion, equity and demonstrated the prerequisites that would lead him/her to be selected as the most qualified employee,” ESOP’s statement reads in part. “It is from that lens that we are extremely disappointed with Chief Jon Belmar’s selection for the Diversity and Inclusion Commander.
“The fact that there was no selection process held for such an important assignment signals to us the lack of sincerity in the Department's commitment to address diversity and inclusion for all of its employees.”
On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with St. Louis police Sgt. Heather Taylor, president of ESOP. The talk show team also reached out to the St. Louis County Police Department for comment.
Listen to the discussion:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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