ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar has announced his retirement.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page made the announcement on Twitter Monday morning that Belmar had announced his retirement.
“During his tenure, he created the Diversity and Inclusion Unit and obtained voter approval of Prop P, allowing police officers the raises they deserved. Thanks for your service,” part of the tweet read.
Today, Chief Jon Belmar announced his retirement. He took over a department during difficult times. During his tenure, he created the Diversity and Inclusion Unit and obtained voter approval of Prop P, allowong police officers the raises they deserved. Thanks for your service.— County Executive Sam Page (@DrSamPage) February 10, 2020
Belmar was a police officer for 34 years. He was appointed Chief of Police in January 2014.
“It has been an honor to work with and for the women and men of the St. Louis County Police Department," Belmar said. "The dedication, sacrifice, and bravery of those that work for this Department is unmatched. The citizens and businesses of St. Louis County deserve nothing but the best, and I firmly believe they receive that from us every day."
Critics were calling for Belmar's resignation last fall following the $20 million verdict to a gay police officer in a discrimination lawsuit. At the time, Belmar said he will not resign and it was his responsibility to build a better environment within the police department.
On the same day that Belmar announced his retirement, Page announced the county had settled the lawsuit with Wildhaber for $10.25 million. Page said Belmar's retirement was not part of the settlement.
"The chief had confided in me even before I became county executive that he would consider retiring in 2020 so I think this has always been in his mind. I believe the chief wanted to make sure we moved forward and got the department on the right track after this settlement," Page said.
While police chief, Belmar led the department through periods of civil unrest and the killing of Officer Blake Snyder.
“On behalf of the Board of Police Commissioners, I would like to thank Chief Belmar for his 34 years of service to the citizens of St. Louis County. Because of his work, and the work of all the other members of the Department, the St. Louis County Police Department is one of the finest police Departments in the country," Ray Price, Chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, said.
St. Louis County police said Belmar's retirement will commence on April 30, 2020.
County Executive Page released the following statement regarding Belmar's announcement:
"I have said all along that change begins at the top and it did, with my appointment of 4 new members to the five-member Police Board. I encouraged Chief Belmar to lead the Police Department through the transition and he has. That included creating a new Diversity and Inclusion unit, promoting Keith Wildhaber to lieutenant and having Keith oversee the new unit.
Belmar shared with me a year ago that he was considering retiring in 2020 so this is the natural course of his plans. His career is long and accomplished, and I appreciate the work he has done.
The process of changing the Police Department’s leadership will be thoughtful and orderly. I have already begun discussing future leadership with members of the Police Board and I look forward to working with them as the next Police Chief is chosen. This is an opportunity for an open dialogue about the future of the Police Department. I am confident that future will be built on a strong foundation that already exists."