ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Chief Jon Belmar is retiring, according to St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. He tweeted this message Monday morning:
“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, allowing police officers the raises they deserved. Thanks for your service.”
This comes after a $20 million dollar judgment against the St. Louis County Police Department. Sgt. Keith Wildhaber sued the department claiming he was passed over for promotion opportunities because he is gay.
“I am surprised by the verdict. I feel that it is important for us to move forward,” Chief Belmar told FOX 2 in November.
FOX 2 reporter Elliott Davis asked if he was thinking about resigning after the judgment by the jury.
“I have an obligation to lead the department out of this crisis,” Belmar said.
The St. Louis County Police Department released the following statement shortly after St. Louis County Executive Sam Page sent the tweet:
“On Monday, February 10, 2020, Colonel Jon M. Belmar, St. Louis County Police Chief, announced his retirement after nearly 34 years of service as a commissioned police officer, with six years as Chief of Police. Chief Belmar’s retirement will commence on April 30, 2020.
"Chief Belmar, who resides in West St. Louis County with his wife, was appointed Chief of Police in January 2014 after working his way up the ranks of the Department. When he was appointed Chief, he was responsible for authorized staff of 853 commissioned police officers and 276 professional staff employees. Since then, the Department has grown to over 1,020 commissioned police officers and 342 professional staff employees. He has led the Department through incredibly difficult times, like the murder of Police Officer Blake Snyder and periods of civil unrest. He has also commanded through tremendous successes, like the passage of Proposition P, Presidential debates, and the 100th PGA Championship.
"'It has been an honor to work with and for the women and men of the St. Louis County Police Department. 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,' writes Jon Belmar in the statement provided by St. Louis County Police.”
County Executive Page released his own statement Monday afternoon regarding the police chief:
"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."