Posted on August 2, 2023

St. Louis Police Commander Alleges He Was Passed Over for Promotion to Police Chief Because He Is White

Christine Byers, KSDK, July 31, 2023

A former frontrunner to become St. Louis’s next police chief has sued the city alleging he was passed over for the promotion because he is white.

St. Louis Lt. Col. Michael Sack and former Lt. Col. Lawrence O’Toole were the only remaining finalists for the job after Mayor Tishaura Jones conducted a national search to replace John Hayden in 2021. The four external candidates failed to show up for the written portion of the selection process, leaving the two internal commanders standing.

Jones then announced she was going to conduct a do-over of the national search, stating “I only had two white male candidates to choose from and St. Louis is more diverse than white males, our police department is more diverse…” according to the lawsuit.

“Jones’ race-based reason for reopening the Commissioner/Chief search was consistent with the pledge she made when running for mayor that she wanted to prioritize diversity in promotions within the Department,” according to the lawsuit.


Despite scoring a 100 on the second promotional test and ranking number one on the eligibility list for the position, then Public Safety Director Dan Isom did not schedule an interview with Sack for the job, according to the lawsuit.


“This new search lowered the minimum qualifications for the position to allow more African American officers within the department to apply,” according to the suit.

The city counselor’s office also advised the mayor not to reopen the search, according to the lawsuit.

“Defendants intended to select an African American Commissioner/Chief but were unable to do so because both African American finalists declined the position,” according to the lawsuit. “One of the African American finalists publicly announced he had withdrawn his name from consideration on or about Dec. 11, 2022.

“The other African American finalist was offered the position, but declined it when the city/department could not get him the car he wanted, in addition to the compensation package offered.”

Jones then appointed Tracy to lead the department. Tracy is white.