ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The Police Board opens discussion on how to pick a new chief, after Chief Dan Isom announced this week he’s stepping down in January.
“At this stage, what we’re really about is how, verses who,” said board member Tom Irwin.
Irwin compared the task of picking a new chief to selecting a CEO to run a $100 million corporation with thirteen-hundred employees.
Board member Bettye Battle-Turner says the next chief will “likely be saddled with more problems” than outgoing Chief Isom.
“The next chief needs to be a person who is outgoing and a community person, good at outreach,” Battle-Turner said.
Board Chair Richard Gray was asked by reporters how politics will be kept out of the process — in light of the November ballot issue that could shift control of the department from the state to city hall.
“An example of being able to keep politics out of it is the fact that I guess we could have waited until after the election, but we didn’t,” Gray said, “We chose to march forward and really start putting the process together.”
Board members plan to hire a national interviewing firm to help evaluate candidates from within the department. The University of Missouri St. Louis, which has a close working relationship with the department, will also offer its assistance. And there could be focus groups to determine what the public is looking for in a chief.
“This wouldn’t be American Idol where you’re asking people to vote,” Irwin said, “but it would be a situation where you’re asking people what qualities they expect to see in a big-city police chief.”
St. Louis attorney Erwin Switzer made his first appearance at the board, after being appointed by Governor Nixon to fill a vancacy on the five-member panel.