ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton reflects on her first year as chief. She is direct, says she won’t play politics, and will always have her officers’ backs. She is also laying out her plan for year two.
Trying, challenging, and rewarding is how Barton sums up her first year on the job.
“Despite a lot of noise and outside factors, I’m still here,” she says.
Chief Barton says she isn’t going anywhere. Her department dealt with the pandemic, had lots of officers sick, and saw civil unrest. But she says they overcame.
When asked if she felt her critics were justified in questioning her sensitivity to alleged racism in the department, she said, “Do I think they’re fair, no, but life isn’t fair and I can’t dwell on what’s not fair. I have a job to do and I have to drown out all the noise and move this police department forward.”
Moving into year two of her position, Barton says the department needs to address the increase in violent crime.
“Assualts with weapons, spefically homicides. Natitonwide. I’m concenred with the amount of domestic homicides that have increased drastically,” Barton says.
Barton says nothing really surprises her after 43 year of serving but doesn’t believe it would be a good idea to take police out of the budget in the county or St. Louis city.
“When violent crime is on the rise, you have to be effective and efficient with your resurces. But also say, if we’re going to attack it, we need the bodies and tools to do it,” she says.
Barton also says it’s vital to rebuild relationships of all kinds.
“Building partnerships with groups we had been involved with to aid us in recruiting, different ethnicities, different minorities to the police department, and of course working on racial issues in the police department,” she says. “It’s not like it used to be.”
St. Louis County has a zero growth budget which Barton says makes her job tougher.
Barton says she is trying to take a more regional approach to policing and one with intellignece sharing. She says a lot of violent crime is being solved by technology.
Barton also has a message for her officers.
“They need to know that the average citizen does appreciate them and stand by them and as their chief, I stand by them. And I’m not leaving,” she says.