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St. Louis County NAACP says resident listening session for police chief were for nothing

St. Louis County NAACP says resident listening session for police chief were for nothing

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County Police Commissioners meet to decide future

The St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners adjourned on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, after meeting only in closed session. They voted unanimously to initiate an independent review of the St. Louis County Police Department. The commissioners are from left: Vice-Chairman Lawrence Wooten Sr., Secretary Laurie Westfall, and Arthur Johnson. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS COUNTY — The county's chapter for the NAACP issued a press release, expressing disappointment over the newly selected police chief and the selection process by the county's board of police commissioners.

The county's NAACP President, John Bowman, said in release on Thursday that the three listening sessions held for residents' input on the next chief appear to have been "for naught", also noting what he said was continued distrust amongst residents and county police. 

Lt. Col. Mary Barton was selected by the police board as chief on Thursday, just a little over one week after the last public listening session on March 10. 

“People at the top are failing to acknowledge the lack of representation of black and brown people in leadership positions. This is a missed opportunity for County Executive Sam Page’s office,” said Bowman.

Bowman and various municipality council members and mayors signed a letter to have Lt. Col. Troy Doyle, who is black, selected as chief.

The NAACP also said they opted for the board to have a more transparent process such as the St. Louis City did for the selection of current Chief John Hayden.

When Hayden was selected, the St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson formed a citizen's advisory committee, and had police chief candidates take questions from the public. 

William Ray Price Jr., chairman of the police board, did not immediately return a request for comment about the NAACP's stance on Friday. 

Current Police Chief Jon Belmar announced will retire at the end of April, and Burton will take command May 1.

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