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Last Friday, the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners unanimously voted for Sam Dotson to become the next police chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Dotson will replace Dan Isom, who announced earlier this year that he would retire to accept a faculty position at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Before Dotson takes over on January 1, here’s what you should know about him and what he wants to accomplish during his tenure:
1. Dotson is an 18-year veteran of the department and was among 11 candidates for the position. He has served in numerous divisions, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including the Board of Police Commissioners, Office of the Chief, intelligence, operational planning, and the fourth, seventh, and ninth districts.
2. For the past 18 months, Dotson has served as Mayor Francis Slay’s operations director and coordinated several city services, including streets, building inspections, pensions, and labor relations.
3. In addition to his work with the police department, Dotson has experience in the private sector. He left the department for a job in corporate security for Anheuser-Busch for about a year in 2003 and 2004. In a recent Q&A with the St. Louis Beacon, Dotson said he left the position because he didn’t feel as fulfilled as when he was a police officer.
4. Dotson knows the job intimately. He served as an aide to former Chief Joe Mokwa, but was never implicated in the towing-contract scandal that led to Mokwa’s retirement.
5. Dotson is 43. He has an MBA from Fontbonne University and a bachelor of arts in management from Webster University. He’s also recently divorced and is in the process of moving into a new house in St. Louis Hills.
6. Dotson comes into the role during a new era for the department as it returns to city control in the summer. A state-chartered board has run the police department since the Civil War era. After his appointment, he vowed to keep political influence away from police officers.
7. In a radio interview with KMOX on Monday, Dotson emphasized the importance of communication with the community. He hopes to hold multiple public forums and discussions to give citizens a voice in how the department is run. He mentioned the diverse communities in St. Louis and said he would work with each of them to make sure their needs were addressed.
8. When asked to comment on gun control in reference to the school shooting in Connecticut, Dotson said that the biggest problem is illegal guns on the streets. He mentioned guns being stolen out of cars and homes and straw purchases at gun shows that get guns into the hands of the wrong people, problems that he vowed to address.
9. Dotson’s contract is for two years with three one-year options. His annual salary will be $127,000. He'll lead a department with roughly 1,800 employees.
10. In his interview with the St. Louis Beacon, Dotson explained that in restructuring the department after the city takes control, he hopes to find a way to increase the officers’ salaries by identifying savings from the merger. He says that higher pay should improve morale issues within the department.