Shake-up at St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners

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CLAYTON, Mo. – We are learning more about changes coming to the St. Louis County Police Board. The changes could ultimately lead to the exit of St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar.

All this comes after a jury’s $19 million verdict against the St. Louis County Police Department by a police sergeant who said he was discriminated against because he is gay, and the jury agreed.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page has set the process in motion to replace three of the five members of the Board of Police Commissioners. Late Monday afternoon, Board Chair Roland Corvington resigned from the board and Laurie Westfall, the widow of former County Executive George R. “Buzz” Westfall, was told by Page that he was also replacing her.

Fox 2’s Elliott Davis has reported that a third commissioner is to be replaced in the coming weeks.

Page sent an email out to county employees Monday, stating: “New appointments to the Police Board are forthcoming, including an appointment to fill the vacancy that Board Chair Roland Corvington’s resignation created today.  Other changes will come by taking a fresh look at how the Police Department makes decisions.  Over the coming weeks, Chief Belmar will lead the department through these changes.”

Once Page submits the three new names for police board membership, they would have to be confirmed by the county council. If they’re confirmed, Page’s picks would be in the majority on the police board.

The new board then would decide if Chief Belmar stays or goes.

But at least one councilwoman doesn’t want Belmar to stay that long. Lisa Clancy wants him to resign.

The lawyer for Sergeant Keith Wildhaber, who won the lawsuit against the county police department, issued a statement this evening, saying: “This has been a long and difficult road for Keith. His bravery and courage in standing up for what is right should be an inspiration for employees everywhere. Justice was served in this trial, and no client could be more deserving than Keith.”

The county is likely to appeal the decision.

Fox 2/News 11 asked Chief Belmar and County Executive Sam Page for comment but both declined to go on camera.

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