A Black man who has served over four decades in the St. Louis County Police Department was named chief of police, becoming the first Black person in the history of the department to serve in the role, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Kenneth Gregory, who is 70, has been serving as the interim chief for the last six months and is the tenth chief of police in the department’s history. He was named interim chief after his predecessor, Chief Mary Barton, resigned on Aug. 6 after she agreed to drop a discrimination complaint against St. Louis county in exchange for a 290,000 settlement.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Police board chair Brian Ashworth said while announcing the decision that commissioners had “engaged in extensive discussions” about the position and believe that since Gregory became acting chief on July 30 “the department has not only stabilized, but grown in a positive direction under his command.”
Gregory reflected on his 42 years with the department at the board meeting Tuesday.
“I never would have thought that I’d be standing here as the chief of this department 42 years ago,” Gregory said. “Forty-two years ago, no one would have given this department a look to see that a man that looks like me would be the chief of the St. Louis County Police Department.”
During his 42 years in the department, Gregory served or led in almost every police unit in the St. Louis County Police Department including the director of the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy and commander of the criminal investigations, special operations and patrol divisions, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
More from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The department’s two prominent police organizations on Tuesday issued statements congratulating Gregory.
The department’s union, the St. Louis County Police Association, said in a statement it was “looking forward to continuing our important work with Chief Gregory as we strive to make the St. Louis County Police Department the best place to work in law enforcement and an agency our community will always be proud of.”
The statement also acknowledged the changes in the selection process: “While the SLCPA supports more transparency, we do recognize that our civilian oversight, the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, does have sole discretion and authority to appoint the Chief of Police under the St. Louis County Charter.”
The Ethical Society of Police, an organization made up of many minority police officers that advocate for racial equity in the department, said Gregory “brings an abundance of institutional knowledge to the position.”