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St. Louis Police Chief Isom Leaves To Take Post At UMSL

Adam Allington
St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom announced on Monday that he will be stepping down as chief by the end of the year.  Isom will join the faculty of the Department of Criminology at the University of Missouri—St. Louis.

Isom, 45, took over as chief four years ago following the resignation of Joe Mokwa, who was linked to an illegal tow-lot scandal.

Speaking on UMSL’s campus, Isom said it was hard to move on after 24 years in the department, but the opportunity to teach at his alma mater was too good to ignore.

“I felt that this was the best fit for me,” said Isom, “because I could be part of a faculty that had experience with and background,but I could also continue to work in the community and be a part of the police department.”

Isom earned a BA from UMSL in 1994, and a PhD in 2008.  He is currently in the fourth year of a five-year contract.

The chief said he has had offers from other places, but decided St. Louis was the place he wanted to be.

“There were jobs in other cities that I didn’t want to take, because I wanted to be part of the St. Louis community,” remarked Isom.  

“I don’t want to be the chief in Baltimore or Denver; I want to remain in my community so this is great for me.”

Among his accomplishments Isom pointed to a 30-percent reduction in crime during his time as chief, a trend he expects to continue.  Despite the downward trend, this summer did see a spike in violent assaults.

By law Isom’s replacement must be chosen from within the department, and must be an officer with a rank of captain or higher.   The St. Louis Police Department currently has 17 captains and 5 deputy chiefs.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay praised Isom’s work as chief and said he would have been happy to see him stay.

Mayor Slay says the Board of Police Commissioners should begin work quickly to select a replacement.  

“The process is going to be determined by the board of police Commissioners of which I am one member,” said Slay. 

“I have not talked to the other members yet on specifically how we are going to be moving forward, but I will tell you there will be a process.”

Slay would not speculate how that “process” may be affected by Proposition A—the state ballot initiative up for referendum in November and would return control of the police department to St. Louis City Hall for the first time since the Civil war.

If Prop A is approved control of the department will shift to back to the city in July of 2013.  At that point the new Chief will essentially report to the mayor, not the Board of police Commissioners.  A change in oversight which Isom says he supports.  Slay would not speculate about the possibility of an interim chief.

After weeks of rumors, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed today that Chief Dan Isom will retire on January 1, 2013.

A news release from the police department states that Isom will use his remaining time as chief to "focus on addressing crime in the city, finalizing plans for the new headquarters building, and assist in implementing any new changes for the department."

 Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington

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