ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) – St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton has stepped down.
For the first time, St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton is talking on camera since the County Council passed a resolution stating they had no confidence in her.
Barton's resignation will take effect following a paid leave of absence. The leave of absence allows Barton to be paid for her remaining vacation time.
In a settlement agreement obtained by News 4, Barton will receive $190,000 and her attorney will be paid $100,000. In her resignation letter, Barton wrote:
"I hereby provide my notice of intent to resign from my employment with St. Louis County effective at the conclusion of my leave of absence or on the day prior to a successor Superintendent of Police assuming the position, whichever occurs earlier. I acknowledge that I am responsible for applying for my retirement benefits when I choose to become a retiree and that the application for retirement is a process separate and apart from my resignation."
Deputy Chief of Police Lt. Colonel Kenneth Gregory will serve as the interim chief of the department.
News of Barton's leave of absence and resignation broke during a St. Louis County police commissioners meeting Friday. As the meeting concluded, Barton addressed the board and members of the police department who were watching the live feed.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for 43 wonderful years of service here at the department, and also tell you that I am officially announcing I am retiring. I wish the best to whoever follows in my footsteps and I will also push for the best for this police department," she said.
After the meeting, board members, Michelle Schwerin and Thomasina Hassler, wished Barton well.
"Me personally as well as all the other board members appreciate the chief's commitment to the department and her commitment to the St Louis community," said Schwerin. "After 43 years of dedicated service we expect that she will enjoy the next chapter of her life." said Hassler.
Barton joined the St. Louis County Police Department in October 1978. After holding numerous positions, she was appointed Chief of Police on May 1, 2020. She also served 25 years in the Greater St. Louis Area Major Case Squad, was a member of the International Homicide Investigator's Association and helped the Special School District develop curriculum for high school students looking to pursue careers in law enforcement.
“On behalf of the Board of Police Commissioners, I would like to thank Chief Barton for her 43 years of service to the citizens of St. Louis County. Chief Barton’s dedication and commitment to the Department is illustrative of why the St. Louis County Police Department is one of the finest departments in the country," Board of Commissioner Chairman Michelle Schwerin stated.
During Barton's time as police chief, she faced increasing pressure to step down. The St. Louis County Council and Ethical Society of Police took no-confidence votes on her. On January 15 and June 17, the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners notified Barton of concerns regarding her job performance. On July 14, Barton told the board she had filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Commission on Human Rights.
The Ethical Society of Police released the following statement about Barton's resignation:
Mary Barton has dedicated 40 years of her life to public service in one of the most noble and challenging professions there is. As the first female St. Louis County Police Chief, she is undoubtedly a trailblazer and a source of inspiration for others with similar career aspirations. For that, she should be commended. Yet, she should not receive an automatic payout when she has allowed a culture to exist that discriminated against several protected classes.
The news of her resignation is not surprising. As Chief, her tenure has been plagued by leadership failures to say the least. Therefore, we believe it was in the best interest of the department and citizens of St. Louis County that she steps down. County Executive Sam Page and the Board of Police Commissioners have an opportunity to select the best qualified candidate who has widespread support from a broad demographic spectrum within the region.
The culture of discrimination within the St. Louis County Police Department extends beyond Chief Barton. In fact, the individual named as acting deputy chief is at the center of discrimination lawsuits. A thorough process for selecting the next Chief, including input by organizations such as the Ethical Society of Police, is critical to ensure new leadership is ready on day one to address complex issues, including racism, that are pervasive in the Department.
We believe there are several well respected and capable candidates to choose from as a replacement. We are encouraged by the potential for St. Louis County to continue to break down existing professional barriers with the selection of a chief capable of mending fractured relationships between the department and the community it serves.