ST. LOUIS — It’s not just a city issue; it’s on both sides of the river. That’s the message from leaders gathering Monday for the East-West Gateway Council of Governments gathering for this practicum on partnership-based violence reduction.
“I’m thrilled to report that crime in the city of St. Louis is on the decline, with homicides down over 20% and juvenile shooting incidents down nearly 40% this year,” says Tishaura O. Jones, St. Louis Mayor.
“I’d like to think it’s some of the things we are doing,” says Charles Coyle, Director of Public Safety for the City of St. Louis. “We’re looking at how data can help us with the crime, and we’re looking at how the community can help us as well. I think it’s something very positive. Let me say this. Our homicide detectives have a 75% clearance rate. What does that mean? That means for every four homicides, we arrest three of them. So we are getting the people off the street that need to come off the street.”
The weeklong crime-fighting gathering on the Washington University School of Medicine campus comes six months after a regional crime summit in May with community members, elected officials, and law enforcement.
“The first thing is focus,” says Thomas Abt, University of Maryland’s Violence Reduction Center. “You have to focus on the people and places that are the highest risk for violence, and you have to engage them with a balance of carrots and sticks. The second thing is working together. I always say that violence reduction is a team sport. The team can’t be successful if the players are not working or playing well together. And so that’s what we’re trying to do: get people focused but also playing well together.”
The group says the first concrete “asks” will be for stakeholder’s time and energy, not dollars.
“I think it’s not just a single approach to policing,” says Kurt Frisz, St. Charles County Police Chief. “It’s also the courts and juvenile justice system. I think we need to take a holistic approach to this to make sure there’s accountability but also what’s going on in the community that we can interrupt and intercept before they occur.”
Community leaders are expected to draw up a regional-wide plan of action that will be implemented on both sides of the river over the coming months.