Wildhaber to command new diversity unit


Chief Jon Belmar, right, speaks at the memorial for Officer Blake Snyder held at Affton High School the night Snyder was killed, Oct. 6, 2016, with Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, second from left, looking on. Photo by Bill Milligan.

In the wake of a $20 million jury verdict for discriminating against a gay sergeant from Oakville, the St. Louis County Police Department will debut a new Diversity and Inclusion Unit headed by that very sergeant, now newly promoted to lieutenant.

The unit will open Jan. 1 and will be responsible for overseeing and executing activities that “foster an inclusive environment within the department and enhance the department’s services to the diverse constituents it serves,” the department said in a news release announcing the new unit. This announcement builds on Chief Jon Belmar’s creation of the department’s first Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which first met Nov. 22.

“The Police Department must demonstrate to our officers and to our community that we prioritize diversity and inclusion,” Belmar said in the news release. “Creating this unit will help to formalize those priorities in our decisionmaking and will guide our work to improve public safety in St. Louis County.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Unit will review policies, procedure and practices in order to identify areas of opportunity and deficiency related to diversity; work alongside community stakeholders to improve services, particularly in diverse communities; and develop metrics that measure the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives either existing or implemented in the future.