Kenneth Gregory, 70, was promoted to chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, making him the first Black man to hold the role in the department's 66-year history. He served as interim chief for six months in the police force after former Chief Mary Barton resigned on Aug. 6, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Barton was embroiled in a discrimination complaint against St. Louis County but agreed to drop the lawsuit for a $290,000 settlement, according to The News & Observer.

Gregory served over four decades in the St. Louis County Police Department and said he "never would have thought that I'd be standing here as the chief of this department 42 years ago."

"…no one would have given this department a look to see that a man that looks like me would be the chief of the St. Louis County Police Department," he said.

Police Board Chair Brian Ashworth's decision to appoint Gregory to the chief of the police department was the result of "extensive discussions" with commissioners.

Gregory has gained immense experience working in nearly every St. Louis County police unit throughout his career, including serving as the director of the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy and commander of the criminal, special operations and patrol divisions.

Before becoming a police officer, Gregory was a sixth-grade teacher for five years in the Jennings School District. However, when the requirements for teaching changed, he pivoted into policing and joined the St. Louis County Police Department in Dec. 1979.

"I had never thought in my life that I would be a policeman, but I got on the department, and the profession has just grown on me," he said.