FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2015 file photo, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar speaks in Clayton, Mo. St. Louis County leaders are working to address the culture of the police department following last month's jury verdict awarding $20 million to police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, who alleged he was discriminated against because he is gay. Experts say many departments across the U.S. are working to be more inclusive and are increasingly reaching out to the LGBTQ community. Some, including departments in San Jose, California, and Memphis, Tennessee, are seeking to recruit gay and lesbian officers. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Experts: Leadership key to changing anti-gay police culture

November 27, 2019 - 8:42 am

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — It is possible to change the police culture in St. Louis County, which was on the losing end of a $20 million jury award to a gay officer who claimed he had been discriminated against, but experts say change in such a “hypermasculine” environment requires a commitment from those at the top.

Missouri’s largest county is dealing with the fallout from last month’s award to Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, who says he was passed over for promotion 23 times. He’s not alone. A USA Today investigation found that gay officers had filed at least 11 discrimination lawsuits since 2016.

Police agencies are changing. Many departments now require anti-bias training. In places like San Jose, California, and Memphis, Tennessee, police now seek new recruits from the LGBTQ community.

St. Louis County leaders acknowledge that cultural change is needed.

AP Editorial Categories: