St. Louis Law Enforcement Officer Set to Lead a Diversity Unit after Mediation
Thursday, January, 2, 2020
St. Louis police officer Keith Wildhaber will lead a diversity unit for the department after being passed over for more than 20 promotions in his career. Wildhaber was also promoted to lieutenant. Wildhaber had previously won nearly $20 million in an anti-discrimination lawsuit.
Said Police Chief Jon Belmar after mediation concluded and Wildhaber’s promotion was made official, “The Police Department must demonstrate to our officers and to our community that we prioritize diversity and inclusion. Creating this unit will help to formalize those priorities in our decisionmaking and will guide our work to improve public safety.”
The goal of the new unit is to help the police force improve its relationships within diverse communities.
Wildhaber filed his discrimination lawsuit against the department in 2017 alleging that he’d faced repeated instances of discrimination because of being gay. According to Wildhaber’s claims in the lawsuit, he was told by a former St. Louis County Police Board member to “tone down your gayness” if he wanted a promotion.
Wildhaber’s claims also include being passed over for a promotion on 23 separate occasions and being transferred to a less-desirable precinct after filing a complaint. He won both claims in his lawsuit, including discrimination and retaliation. He’s hoping the lawsuit sends a message about discrimination.
According to several people involved in mediation, Wildhaber’s promotion is unrelated to the lawsuit and mediation. They claim mediation allowed them to “achieve a fair resolution that allows the parties to put an end to this difficult and long-running litigation battle.” Wildhaber believes the outcome is a “crucial first step” in creating change and being better able to serve citizens in the community.