Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) new nominee for Public Safety Director comes from the part of the state that has seen great turmoil in the past two weeks, but he and Nixon have shied away from discussing what he will bring to Ferguson.
Dan Isom is the former Chief of the nearby St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and has been announced as the new Department of Public Safety Director. Nixon touts Isom’s impressive resume as a law enforcement officer, well-educated about criminal justice.
Ferguson has been rocked by periods of rioting and looting in the past two weeks; violence carried out by some but not all of those protesting the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. Perhaps nowhere in the state is public safety a more pressing concern, but neither Nixon nor Isom would talk specifically about what has happened, or will be happening, in Ferguson.
“First as I take on this role I plan to do a lot of listening and a lot of learning,” Isom told reporters as part of a prepared statement on Wednesday.
Nixon reminded reporters that the position’s responsibilities would be statewide.
“We could have a tornado in some town tomorrow and then that side of the equation would get going,” says Nixon. “I think the first relatively short period of time here, the chief’s focus will be on getting a good hold, both intellectually and operationally, of the department that he’s leading.”
Reporters asked Nixon about how Isom’s experience will help in Ferguson or how the new appointee might attack that issue, but the governor declined specifics.
He did give a nod to the urgency of the situation, however.
“I just think it’s a really, obviously, clearly an important time for seasoned leadership here,” says Nixon. “Cops on the beat and the citizens of the state, I think they’re going to be well-served by our new director.”
Isom’s is subject to approval by the state Senate.