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Isom Confirmed As Missouri Public Safety Director

City of St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom.
(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)
City of St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom.

(Updated at 4:29 p.m., Thurs., Jan. 22.)

The Missouri Senate voted today to confirm former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom as the head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

The vote was 31-2.

State senators had held up the vote because of questions related to a discrimination suit when he was St. Louis' chief of police.

Read our earlier story below:

A Missouri Senate committee has delayed the confirmation of former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom as the next head of the state's Department of Public Safety.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, nominated Isom for the cabinet post amid criticism of a lack of racial diversity among his cabinet members. The nomination also came shortly after unrest erupted in Ferguson following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old African-American youth by a white former police officer.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, asked for the delay, citing a successful lawsuit charging racial discrimination in the police department during Isom's tenure. According to AP, a federal jury in 2013 awarded $420,000 to a white sergeant who claimed a black woman was wrongly promoted over him. Isom appealed.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/22/3601105_senate-confirms-missouri-public.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
"Obviously, when you have a federal jury unanimously find for punitive damages, that's a serious issue," Schaefer said, "and we're looking at a position where similar issues of liability could be created for the state as they were for the city of St. Louis."

Senate President Pro-tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, also told the Senate Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments that the governor's office did not disclose the lawsuit when Isom was nominated, "nor was it found by our Senate investigator, to the best of my knowledge."

Schaefer said he learned about the lawsuit ruling when it was pulled up during "a Google search."

Isom answered questions from committee members on Wednesday as to whether the suit would affect his ability to perform his duties as public safety director.

"In 24 years (in) law enforcement, you learn over time through management how to improve," Isom said.  "Many of the things that you do well, and that don't go so well, you learn from."

Isom is temporarily serving as public safety director, but must receive Senate confirmation by the end of the month to stay on the job.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.