ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom formally accepted a job as a criminology professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis on Monday.
Isom said the timing was “perfect” for him to leave the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Isom and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said they were on good terms regarding the departure.
Isom said UMSL approached him about joining their criminology department as a professor. He will start on January 1, 2013 and will stay with SLMPD until then.
“It’s excitement, but you’re feeling a little melancholy because you’ve been around so long,” said Isom after the news conference announcing his decision.
When asked if the police department is better off now than when he took over, Isom said “absolutely.”
“Hopefully people remember what was going on,” said Isom. “A scathing audit, tow scandal, all types of things going on. We cleared all that up.”
Isom and Mayor Slay emphasized the crime statistics.
“Crime has gone down,” said Isom. “Maybe not as much as we wanted it to, but it has.”
Mayor Slay said the number one thing for the next chief to focus on is bringing the numbers down even more. Aggravated assaults with guns and police-involved shootings have sparked recent attention and concern.
“Aggravated assaults is a huge issue,” said Slay. “That’s one area where we’ve seen an uptick while crime has gone down in the city overall.”
By Missouri law, the next police chief must come from within the department.
“It’s a process we should make very public and start as soon as possible,” said Slay.
Slay and the police board will decide who will be the next top cop, and they will start looking for the next chief right away. He says that person needs to be a great leader who will strengthen the department and not divide it.
Slay says the November ballot initiative to give St. Louis local control of the department will not impact this process.
The question for many in the city is what happens to some of the crime prevention projects that the current chief has been leading.
News 4 spoke with two city leaders who are monitoring whether the chief’s departure should create concern for some city residents.
Alderman Antonio French has a lot of praise for Isom, specifically his “hot-spot policing” which immediately shifts police and man-power to the areas which are seeing an increase in crime.
Two hot spots targeted recently were north St. Louis City - where French is the Alderman, and the Washington Avenue loft district, just north of downtown.
City leaders say hot spot policing has lead to a reduction in crime and positive results.
Another program supported by Isom was the neighborhood ownership model.
It is estimated the program already has about one thousand volunteers working with police, the courts and politicians to reduce crime.
Some politicians say the challenge residents now face is whether the new chief and the mayor will continue to support the successful and already established anti-crime programs which citizens and leaders say are working.