What is a safe city?
I believe – strongly – that it is one in which every resident on
every block of every street in every neighborhood lives without fear of crime. No
neighborhood is written off.
Over the past several months, a group of city officials, aldermen,
staffers, community leaders have been meeting and talking to see if we can make
that happen, if we can make a safer city by reshaping how and where city
services are delivered.
We decided that we can. And will.
As we reached our conclusions, I have showed you our work by posting the
pieces of the PIER (Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, Reentry) Plan, a catalog
of programs, ordinances, and practices that the city had – or will have --
Today, the PIER plan gets its first life.
For two years, 15 city neighborhoods – the city’s most dangerous
– will receive the focused attention of every department and resource. Twelve
of these neighborhoods are in traditional north St. Louis; three are in
traditional south St. Louis.
In those neighborhoods, specially-tasked police officers and
park rangers will work closely with building and health inspectors, streets and
refuse workers, NSOs, foresters, jobs trainers, firefighters, transportation planners,
economic development officials, probation and parole officers, mental health
practitioners, sustainability officials, and those who work with young children and school-age
Many of the city staffers will “own” their neighborhoods, will
operate out of new satellite offices, and will become familiar faces and resources
to the people who live and work there. Others will be dispatched as required. Existing
neighborhood organizations, business organizations, church groups, and other
stakeholders will play central roles in the work and, perhaps, will be more
robust as they become part of this comprehensive plan.
New technologies, including additional camera systems, will be added
in these neighborhoods first to provide data for real-time adjustments to our
efforts, as well as to serve as monitors in neighborhoods where a call to city
government isn’t yet a first response or habit.
The state’s judges and prosecutors who serve the city will also
have roles. As we give them greater assurance that we are doing everything we
can on our side, we will ask prosecutors to use the alternative programs and community
resources we are providing and will need dedicated court dockets that swiftly
move dangerous people off the streets and into the state’s facilities and
And we will need speedy passage of bills at the Board of
Aldermen that will pay for the recruitment, training, equipping, and
deployments of additional police officers. Reaching agreement with aldermen to
do this was a key compromise that made this planning work. We could not strip
parts of the city of law enforcers in order to address pressing issues in other
What we are doing should not be taken as an experiment. It is
the more thoughtful deployment of the thousand things the city already does,
many of them well.
The next two years will be hard. But we know where we are going.
I want to acknowledge the work of Police Chief Sam Dotson, Circuit
Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Judge Bryan Hettenbach. And that of Aldermen Donna Baringer, Jeffrey
Boyd, Chris Carter, Shane Cohn, Marlene Davis, Christine Ingrassia, Terry
Kennedy, Lyda Krewson, and Cara Spencer.
I particularly want to point to the work of two people, Chief of
Staff Mary Ellen Ponder and Alderman Antonio French who came to trust each
other. There’s a video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fptWcHZKh9w&feature=youtu.be