Byrnes Mill Police Chief Frank T. Selvaggio has been named the Missouri Police Chief of the Year by the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
Selvaggio, 62, of Affton said he received the Donald “Red” Loehr Chief of the Year Award on Dec. 8 in Jefferson City at the organization’s annual conference.
“I was pretty overwhelmed by it,” said Selvaggio, who was named chief of the Byrnes Mill Police Department in October 2018.
He said he can’t take all the credit for the award, though.
“It’s the whole team that made this happen,” Selvaggio said.
Selvaggio said he was shocked to receive the honor.
“I was completely caught by surprise by this,” he said. “I did not know I had been nominated for the award until a couple days beforehand.”
Selvaggio was nominated by his assistant chief, Jamie Mayberry, and Byrnes Mill City Administrator Debbie LaVenture.
He said several city officials also wrote letters of recommendation for his nomination.
Mayberry said he believed Selvaggio was the “perfect” candidate for the award.
“I felt like that was the right thing to do for him,” Mayberry said. “My whole police career, I wanted to serve the community and make a difference and I feel under Chief Selvaggio we’ve been able to do that.”
Mayberry said he and several other officers, as well as LaVenture, surprised Selvaggio by showing up in Jefferson City to see him accept the award.
“It’s just an honor to serve under him,” Mayberry said.
Sue Lindsey, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association office manager and administration manager, said the award is only given to one police chief a year and the chief must be nominated by a fellow law enforcement officer.
Lindsey said the award is given to a chief based on work accomplishments and community projects.
“What (the award) means is he’s made an impact on his town and community,” she said.
Selvaggio said when he started as a police officer, he never thought about becoming a chief, much less winning such an award.
“Forty years ago, as I walked through the doors of a police academy, no, I had no idea that my career would build into something like this,” he said.
Selvaggio said when he was looking for a police chief job more than two years ago, he was ready to look out of state.
“I had the applications on my desk, one for Florida and two for Colorado, and I got a phone call from Arnold Police Chief Bob Shockey,” Selvaggio said.
Shockey told Selvaggio about the open position at Byrnes Mill.
“I never really had heard anything about Byrnes Mill, other than it was a speed trap,” Selvaggio said.
After hearing a story about two women driving 20 miles out of their way around Byrnes Mill because of fear of the police officers there, Selvaggio said he wanted to take the job and make some changes.
“That really hit home with me; that is absolutely wrong,” he said. “I have trouble comprehending that anybody would be afraid of the police.”
Selvaggio said he hopes the Byrnes Mill Police Department has regained peoples’ trust.
“They deserve a professional police department,” he said. “I think they realize now that they can trust us. I think we built a lot of bridges.”
Selvaggio said this coming May he will celebrate 40 years in law enforcement.
He worked for the Clayton Police Department for 28 years, retiring as a sergeant. He then worked for the Washington University Police Department, where he served as a lieutenant and the commander of the department’s Bureau of Investigations and Special Services.
Selvaggio is a former member of the Greater St. Louis Major Case Squad and St. Louis County Mobile Response Team. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
He said it’s sometimes hard to believe he still is working in law enforcement.
“I’m the last person from my police academy class to still be in law enforcement,” he said.