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Dan Isom (BS 1994, MA 2003, PhD 2008)

For Dan Isom, public service is in the family bloodline. His father was a firefighter, his mother was a public school teacher and his sister was a police officer. So, it was only natural for Dan to follow the family example by joining the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 1988. He rose through the ranks in the years that followed, becoming the City of St. Louis’ 33rd Chief of Police in October 2008, a leadership role he continued until his retirement in 2013.

To prepare for a career in law enforcement, he attended the University of Missouri–St, Louis, where he holds a BS, an MA and a PhD in criminology and criminal justice. He says UMSL provided a highly diverse environment that was ideal for pursuing the public safety profession.

After earning multiple degrees from UMSL, Dan received a master’s in public administration from Saint Louis University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Forum Senior Management Institute. He is also a 2013 Eisenhower Fellow, studying community policing and police training in Europe, and a 2016 University of Chicago Institute of Politics Fellow, focusing a series of presentations on policing in America.

Dan Isom

“What I found so valuable about my time at UMSL was the diversity of the student body,” he said. “It was a more comprehensive learning experience that reflected the real world.”

He taught future generations as an E. Desmond Lee Professor of Policing and the Community in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UMSL. Dan says the most important thing he tried to convey to students is how they must guide their law enforcement actions and decisions on the constitution, the law, department policies and professional ethics. He also says research and evidence proves that environment and opportunity dictate many of the bad choices people make.

"If you understand this, law enforcement can hold individuals accountable for the rules without dehumanizing or disrespecting them," he said. "I believe accountability with understanding has the greatest potential to change destructive behavior in individuals and in communities."

He continued his career serving as executive director of the Regional Justice Information Service and as interim director of public safety for the City of St. Louis. In February 2023, he joined Ameren as vice president of corporate safety, security and crisis management.