ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — St. Louis County’s first Black police chief is leaning on his knowledge of the St. Louis metro and decades in law enforcement to lead him through his next challenge.
Kenneth Gregory is the first person of color to leas the St. Louis County Police Department in its 66-year history. Gregory is serving as interim chief, taking over his predecessor Mary Barton. she left the job after serving as chief for less than a year. Gregory was her right-hand man as deputy chief of police.
St. Louis County Police Chief Mary Barton has stepped down.
“It’s a big change in this department obviously being the first man of color. I’ve been in this position a number of times in this department,” Gregory said.
As Gregory sits in his new office, he’s reminded he’s no stranger to making history. “I hope that it brings a lot of pride to African Americans in St. Louis County,” Gregory said. “I hope they look highly on that.”
In his more than four decades with the department, Gregory amassed numerous awards and even met a few presidents. From George W Buch to Barack Obama and President Biden. And just to think he started his law enforcement career almost by accident.
After going to the University of Missouri, Gregory took his talents to the classroom and became a teacher. Now he’s teaching a new generation and getting to business as acting chief. Besides shifting culture, tackling crime is top of mind.
“The numbers are increasing,” Gregory said, adding part of bringing those numbers down involves meeting people where they are. “We’ve started a community engagement unit here and that’s part of what they do, establish relationships. That’s what makes it easier for us to do our jobs.”
Gregory has been in law enforcement for 41 years and says a lot has changed throughout the years. “You have to deal with community relationship with people. That’s been a big deal. You have to deal with social media,” Gregory said.
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