Experts: Leadership key to changing anti-gay police culture

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CLAYTON, Mo. –  It is possible to change the police culture in St. Louis County, which was on the losing end of a $20 million jury award to a gay officer who claimed he had been discriminated against, but experts say change in such a “hypermasculine” environment requires a commitment from those at the top.

Missouri’s largest county is dealing with the fallout from last month’s award to Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, who says he was passed over for promotion 23 times. He’s not alone. A USA Today investigation found that gay officers had filed at least 11 discrimination lawsuits since 2016.

Police agencies are changing. Many departments now require anti-bias training. In places like San Jose, California, and Memphis, Tennessee, police now seek new recruits from the LGBTQ community.

St. Louis County leaders acknowledge that cultural change is needed.

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