ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Thursday night the new St. Louis police chief received his new badge.
Chief Sam Dotson was officially given his new badge at Harris Stowe State University in a ceremony for police department promotions.
Eighteen members of the police department were rewarded with new promotions and they received their badges, but first a look back at the men and women in blue who got this department where it is today.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department began as a four man force in 1808.
No one was paid. Every male 18 or older was required to serve four months as a police officer each year. Anyone who refused got a stiff fine, $1.
The city grew and in 1861 a police board was formed to run the department. James McDonough became the city’s first police chief. He didn’t ask for the job but because he ran a private detective agency, he was considered the most qualified.
Throughout the many years and changing leadership the department has seen thousands of men and women in blue wear the badge of courage.
Their leaders over the last 20 years include the city’s first black police chief in 1991, Chief Clarence Harmon. Chief Ron Henderson would follow in his footsteps, followed by Chief Joe Mokwa and then most recently Dan Isom. And now Sam Dotson takes over the reins of a force more than 1200 officers strong. Dotson has served as the operations director for the city of St. Louis and under Mayor Francis Slay for the last 20 months.
Chief Dotson has this certificate framed and on his wall in his office. It’s from the officer friendly program when he was a child and what made him want to become a police officer.
This summer, the 43 year old Dotson plans to lead the department somewhat back to its beginnings away from state control and back to city control, something it hasn’t seen since the civil war era.