Lt. Col. Mary Barton

Lieutenant Colonel Mary Barton will become the first woman to serve as St. Louis County Police Department’s police chief starting on May 1, the Board of Police Commissioners announced today in a statement.

Barton, previously a captain, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel effective immediately. On May 1, Barton will be appointed to the rank of colonel and will begin her tenure as the ninth St. Louis County police chief.

“The board listened to the community, worked fast and hard to complete the selection process,” stated the Honorable William Ray Price Jr, chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners. “The department needs consistent and steady leadership as it deals with COVID-19 and the other challenges facing all police departments in this nation. The board is deeply impressed with the professionalism and personal qualities of the seven other applicants, and the entire command staff, especially Deputy Chief Kenneth Gregory, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Bader, Lieutenant Colonel Troy Doyle, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Ludwig, and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Busalaki.”

Dr. Laurie Punch echoed that sentiment and said, “Lieutenant Colonel Barton is an experienced leader with a ‘clear vision’ of an equitable future for both the Department and the community we serve.”

“I have had the pleasure of working with Lieutenant Colonel Barton for many years,” Chief Jon Belmar stated. “I am confident that she possesses the abilities to lead this police department. I look forward to working alongside her in the transition leading up to my retirement.”

Since Chief Jon Belmar announced his retirement on February 10, the Board of Police Commissioners has solicited public input to inspire the process of selecting the future Chief of Police for the St. Louis County Police Department. Three “listening sessions” were held in North, South, and West St. Louis County, where citizens could address the board directly with what they believed to be the two or three most important attributes the board should consider in their decision-making process, according to the board’s statement.

Ultimately, 45 speakers addressed the commissioners.

Barton began her law enforcement career after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Southwest Texas State University. She joined the St. Louis County Police Department in October 1978 and has held numerous positions including, patrol (officer and supervisor), Bureau of Drug Enforcement Detective, Bureau of Special Investigations Detective, Bureau of Communications Supervisor, Patrol Lieutenant, and Bureau Commanders in Staff Services, Security Services, and Logistical Support. Captain Barton has commanded the North County Precinct and was recently assigned to the West County Precinct. Captain Barton also instructed classes at the County and Municipal Police Academy in Interpersonal Communications, Cultural Diversity, and Workplace Survival.

In addition, she has instructed fellow employees in interview skills, promotion preparation, report writing, and task force development/management.

Lieutenant Colonel Barton has received numerous awards, commendations, and letters of appreciation throughout her career. She earned a master’s degree in Management and Human Resource Training and Development from Webster University in 1991 and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Class 237. Captain Barton is a graduate of the 74th Session of the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston.

Lieutenant Colonel Barton has served over twenty-five years in the Greater St. Louis Area Major Case Squad as an investigator, supervisor, Deputy Commander, and Chief Report Officer. She is a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association. She has been a member of the Public Safety Advisory Board to the Special School District for over 30 years, developing and advising on training curriculum for vocational high school students planning to pursue law enforcement careers.

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