- 3 min read
- Posted on 12.15.15
- Filed under
- comprehensive plan
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 -- available.
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 youngsters.
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 programs.
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 parts.
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