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St. Louis County officer who won discrimination lawsuit to head new diversity inclusion unit

Keith Wildhaber, who won a discrimination suit against the department in October, has also been promoted to lieutenant

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — An officer who won a $19 million discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department in October will head the department's new Diversity Inclusion Unit.

The department announced the formation of the unit on Thursday, at the same time that it announced Keith Wildhaber, newly promoted to lieutenant, will serve as the unit's first commander.

Wildhaber sued the department and won after he said that he was repeatedly passed over for a promotion to lieutenant because he was gay.

RELATED: Jury awards $19 million to St. Louis County police sergeant who says he was told to tone down his 'gayness'

The department said in a Thursday press release that the unit will build upon the recently-created Diversity and Inclusion Committee and provide "vision and leadership in promoting an institutional culture that values and supports diversity and inclusion in the Department."

Chief Jon Belmar said in the release that he looks forward to working with Wildhaber in his new role.

“The Police Department must demonstrate to our officers and to our community that we prioritize diversity and inclusion,” Belmar said. “Creating this unit will help to formalize those priorities in our decision-making and will guide our work to improve public safety in St. Louis County."

"Change began with new board members," County Executive Same Page said in a tweet on Thursday. "Creating a Diversity & Inclusion Unit is the next step in the serious & thoughtful change that’s needed. Appointment of a well-qualified leader whose perspective is informed by life experiences demonstrates the County’s commitment to progress."

St. Louis County has appealed the $19 million reward.

RELATED: In appeal of $19M award in discrimination suit, St. Louis County argues that Missouri allows anti-gay discrimination

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