Longtime Lake Saint Louis police officer and assistant chief Chris DiGiuseppi has been named the city’s new police chief, succeeding Mike Force, who is retiring in August after more than 25 years as chief.
Mayor Kathy Schweikert and the city’s Board of Aldermen announced DiGiuseppi’s appointment on June 20 after a national recruitment process.
DiGuiseppi has served as a police officer for 24 years and as the city’s assistant chief of police for the past 17 years, with the rank of captain. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lindenwood University. He is scheduled to start his new position on Aug. 11.
“I am honored by the opportunity to serve those in our community and lead the dedicated men and women of the Lake Saint Louis police department,” DiGiuseppi said in a city press release. “Our success has been built upon the foundation of community partnerships, public trust and helping people in need.”
In the release, Schweikert said she and the board are very pleased with DiGiuseppi’s selection. “Captain DiGiuseppi has worked closely with Chief Force for many years with the same principles and professionalism, as well as having that close contact with our residents,” Schweikert said. “He is the perfect fit for the position and will ensure a seamless transition for the officers and residents.”
DiGiuseppi was selected through a national recruiting process, as well as input from a panel that included Alderman Jason Law [Ward 3], a commander with the St. Louis County Police Department; Bill Charninsky, retired St. Peters city administrator and a former Bolingbrook, Illinois, police chief; retired Lake Saint Louis minister Bob Thompson; and Chief Force.
The panel met with three semifinalists and recommended DiGiuseppi as the finalist to City Administrator Paul Markworth, who also recommended his appointment to Schweikert.
DiGiuseppi plans to continue and enhance the department’s performance model, initiated in 2016. He also plans to update current policing policies to provide clear and concise guidelines for department staff, and enhance services for residents and businesses. A near-term goal is for the department to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies [CALEA].
Over the last 20 years, the department and city have grown. Force succeeded John Selby and walked in the door to a department with 11 commissioned officers. The city’s population grew to more than 15,000, and its police department now has 31 sworn commissioned officers and 12 other noncommissioned personnel.
“The timing is good, I think. There are things going on in my life that make this a good time for it to happen,” said Force in an interview after announcing his retirement. He may continue to work, including writing. He and DiGiuseppi have coauthored several novels.
The city’s police department had to evolve as times changed. Crime is no longer confined to certain parts of the metropolitan area. And two social issues these days seem to underlie much criminal activity, according to Force.
“One is drugs – if you look at any crime that is pervasive you can tie it back to drugs,” he said. The other is the deterioration of core social values that years ago seem to have been shared by nearly all groups, regardless of race or nationality, he said.
Lake Saint Louis also is no longer an isolated island, particularly with the explosive growth of nearby O’Fallon and Wentzville in recent years, he said.
“The growth and changes around us certainly impact use, and we have to be wise enough to understand that,” he said. “If we think we’re going to remain the way we are today, we’re probably fooling ourselves.”