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Jones appoints ex-police chief Isom as interim public safety director

CITY HALL – Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones hopes two appointees to leadership posts in the Department of Public Safety will help to bring major changes to the city’s police.

In a news conference Thursday, Jones said she was appointing former Police Commissioner Daniel Isom II as interim director of the public safety department and retired police Sgt. Heather Taylor the senior advisor to the public safety director.

Speaking in the City Hall rotunda, Jones also said she was appointing Adam Layne to replace her as treasurer. Layne has been deputy chief of staff in that office.

During her campaign for mayor, Jones said, “I plainly stated that now is the time to start having the tough conversations on what really holds our beloved city back: racism, lack of effort, lack of accountability and too many inefficiencies to count.”

Jones said her decision to appoint Isom and Taylor “was based on their willingness to have the tough conversations and their ability to hold everyone within the Department of Public Safety accountable to their commitment to protect the people of the city of St. Louis.”

The public safety department watches over the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the fire department, corrections and other enforcement agencies. 

Jones noted that Isom had spent 25 years in the city police department and had a large amount of experience, education and accolades. He was named police chief in 2008 and retired in the early 2010s. He taught in the classrooms of St. Louis Community College, Harris-Stowe State University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. 

Isom was a member of the Ferguson Commission and served as the Missouri Director of Public Safety. He is executive director of the REJIS (Regional Justice Information Service) Commission, which provides technology solutions for law enforcement in this region. .

“We will begin to talk about necessary conversations and the effort to rebuild trust between our community and our police officers,” Jones said.

Asked why Isom would be the interim director, Jones said there would be a nationwide search for a permanent public safety director. Isom could be chosen as the permanent director, she said.

Jones noted that Taylor had moved to Florida and was there when Jones called her and asked her to assume a new role. Taylor agreed and moved back.

“This is going to be very historic,” Jones said, “and I’m so humbled to work with two professionals who really know public safety and really want to lead with prevention, because we have to transform our public safety department to one that leads with prevention, and I know that Heather and Dan are the ones to get to get that done.”

Jones said that Layne had a bachelor’s degree in finance from George Washington University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A St. Louis native, he has been an educator, mentor and financial advisor.

All of that “gives me the faith that he will be a strong partner to my administration, holding the city’s banking decisions to a standard of racial equity and transparency,” Jones said.

Speaking to the reporters, Layne said he had been blessed to be part of a high-performing team in the treasurer’s office. “You’re leaving some very impressive shoes to fill,” Layne said to Jones.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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