The Webster Groves City Council on March 5 appointed the first members to the city’s new police community engagement board.
The council created the board in September to offer advice and make recommendations on issues concerning public safety and police services within the city. Its purpose is to strengthen and build upon the positive relationships between the police department and the community through collaboration, partnerships and outreach.
Seventeen applications were received for the board. In addition to Police Chief Dale Curtis, a council liaison and a business owner yet to be determined, the board will include:
• Rev. Eric Hayes, pastor of Community Baptist Church, one of the oldest African-American churches in Webster Groves.
• John Thomas, a representative selected by the Webster Groves School District.
• Karen Alexander, a long-time resident of North Webster and member of the North Webster Neighborhood Coalition.
• Dr. Scott Groesch, a resident and a primary care physician associated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis.
• Kevin Sombart, who lives in south Webster.
• Katy Friedman Miller, a resident of Northeast Webster Groves who holds a master of social work degree. Welch said she has relevant experience in mental health issues.
• Nakailah Shields-Robinson, Miss Webster for 2018 and a student at Webster Groves High School.
“We were looking for diversity in gender, race, age, experience and geography for board members,” said Mayor Gerry Welch said during a council work session.
Council Member Laura Arnold asked that the city consider a female business owner for the group, to help with gender balance on the board. Welch added there are many female-owned retail shops in the city.
“We had a number of really good candidates for the board, and we plan to send them a letter, thanking them for applying and suggesting they look for a another board or committee to join, because their diversity would be a welcome addition,” Welch said.