3 min read
Posted on 02.23.15
  • 3 min read
  • Posted on 02.23.15

 Is St. Louis a safe place to live or visit? Yes.

We have made significant progress in making St. Louis a safer place. In the last five years, crime has gone down by half.

That said, there's been an increase of crime over the past few months. You can debate the causes, but I am not waiting for an explanation. I've directed my cabinet to work more closely together to ensure we're incorporating the approaches to reduce crime and make every neighborhood safe.

The Metropolitan Police Department is already one of the best-trained and progressive police departments in the country. Our police utilize the latest in statistical analysis, meeting weekly to analyze crime trends. The department incorporates the insights of a criminologist who has access to department statistics and practices. It coordinates with other law enforcement agencies - including federal law enforcement and law enforcement in St. Louis County and in the Metro East. It has pioneered initiatives like the Homicide Minister and Community Alliance, which intervenes to prevent retaliation by allies of homicide victims and to assure victims and their families receive appropriate social services. It has piloted projects with non-profit partners like the Crime Victim Advocacy Center, and it coordinates intervention efforts with St. Louis Public Schools.

What we haven't done is given a formal name to the department's efforts to be proactive and to intervene strategically to prevent crime. We don't have a logo for our initiatives, and we don't brag about our police department's successes enough. It's just part of the department's job. And we're proud of the efforts our officers make to be proactive.

But that doesn't mean we couldn't formalize - and brand- our initiatives in a better, more cohesive manner. Or do more. Or do the same things better.

We can, and we will, continue to break through the attitude that only the police department is concerned with public safety. Local control was a big first step: the police department is a city agency that should work seamlessly with other city departments and agencies.

One idea that we have been considering is to incorporate more social services to aid our police department's pro-active approach. Eddie Roth, a former Public Safety director, is now the Human Services director. He is well-positioned to make that happen.

Other City departments and agencies will be involved, as well. Well-lit streets and clean alleys, trimmed trees, secured buildings, employed youths, recreation opportunities, good nutrition, and jobs training are all elements that, ultimately, make us safer.

This week, I've sent Winston Calvert, the City Counselor, and Richard Gray, the Director of Public Safety, to Kansas City to start a dialogue about what works - and what doesn't work - with their counterparts on the other end of the state. Police Chief Sam Dotson has already gone, but is sending senior officers with Calvert and Gray today. So is the Circuit Attorney's Office.

Kansas City opted to formalize many of the same pro-active policing strategies that our police department employs under the brand name "No Violence Alliance."

Formalizing and expanding our proactive practices like Kansas City did with the No Violence Alliance is something we are considering.

It is true that what works in Kansas City might not work here - Kansas City has more sprawl and fewer densely populated neighborhoods. But, I am committed to exploring every option to make St. Louis a safer place.