In light of the death of Officer Norvell Brown, I have once again asked Chief Joe Mokwa whether St. Louis has enough police officers to lower crime. He says the answer is yes. He also said the comprehensive anti-crime plan the City of St. Louis developed and started implementing last year is starting to pay dividends.
Chief Mokwa has loudly and consistently said that someone needs to intervene in the lives of at-risk young people before they commit crimes. He has just as loudly and consistently complained that his officers arrest the same criminals over and over and over again.
So, we have been addressing both issues. We are adding 40 officers to the police department this year and another 40 next year. We created a Most Dangerous Offenders unit in the police department to target repeat offenders; have created a crime analysis unit to track crime in a more sophisticated way to better prevent it; have created a Career Criminal Unit in the Circuit Attorneys Office; and are working with the U.S. Attorney and FBI to prosecute gun and crime cases. Maybe most effectively, we added $3.2 million in this year’s City budget to expand our jail capacity by 450 to keep more criminals off the streets.
We are also working to intervene in the lives of young people before they go bad. We are working to increase quality educational opportunities. We worked to create a charter school for high school drop-outs. We are expanding recreational opportunities and after school programs for kids. We are working with community groups like Better Family Life to give at-risk young people alternatives to a life of crime.
We are making progress. Chief Mokwa says crime is down more than 12 percent so far this year. If that trend continues through the rest of the year, crime will be the lowest in 20 years.