ST LOUIS, MO (STL.News) In a press conference Thursday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the state’s plan to help combat violent crime in the St. Louis region. The plan comes on the heels of multiple meetings with state, local, and federal leaders and community groups to better understand the issues and discuss potential solutions.
“As Governor and a former law enforcement officer for 22 years, protecting the citizens of our state is of utmost importance to my administration. We know we have a serious problem with violent crime that must be addressed,” Governor Parson said. “After meeting with leaders and organizations at all levels over the past months, we have rolled up our sleeves, gotten to work, and identified the immediate actions we at the state level can take to help get violent criminals off our streets.”
Beginning October 1, 2019, Governor Parson’s plan will commit approximately 25 state personnel to support task forces and other operations.
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Strike Force
Two state troopers will be assigned to the ATF Strike Force. As part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives within the U.S. Department of Justice, the strike force works to protect communities and combat the growing number of violent crimes involving firearms, explosives, arson, and alcohol and tobacco products.
U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force
Two state troopers will be assigned to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, which combines the efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to locate and apprehend the most dangerous fugitives and assist in high profile investigations.
Mission SAVE (Strike Against Violence Early) Task Force
Two state troopers and one cyber analyst will be assigned to the Mission SAVE Task Force. Mission SAVE targets the most violent individuals while also working on long-term drug investigations around organized crime and gang activity.
Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) Interstate Surges
Patrol surges will take place on interstates throughout St. Louis City, primarily on I-70 as well as I-55, I-44, and I-64, with four to six troopers assigned to each surge. The patrol surges are intended to apprehend violent criminals, remove them from the interstates, and free up local officers to patrol other high-crime areas.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Adoptive Cases
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office is working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to assist with federal-level gun and drug cases. In addition to the Assistant Attorneys General the state has already provided, Governor Parson’s plan will assign two additional investigators to this already successful partnership.
Through this collaboration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has increased the number of gun and drug cases by more than 100 percent from just two years ago. The Violent Crime Unit has already indicted nearly 500 cases so far this year and is currently preparing another 200 cases for indictment. State personnel will help accelerate these efforts.
In addition to the immediate actions beginning in October, Governor Parson’s plan includes other longer-term items to assist with recovery services.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Funding
The state currently has approximately $2 million in VOCA funds available specifically for the St. Louis region, which will be used to support Victim Service Days through the Missouri Department of Public Safety. These will be staffed by two program representatives from the Crime Victim Services Unit and two social workers. VOCA funds will also potentially support additional victim advocates in the area.
Probation and Parole Police Partnership
Probation and Parole is currently working with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) on a heightened supervision program for violent offenders. Probation and Parole is looking to better partner with local law enforcement agencies to further this program.
At the local level, SLMPD and the St. Louis County Police Department have made significant progress on infrastructure needs including MetroLink coverage, ShotSpotters, license plate readers, and cameras.
“This plan and the state resources we’re committing to it are based on a series of very constructive meetings and ongoing conversations we’ve had with law enforcement leaders, prosecutors, and community leaders in St. Louis,” Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said. “We are committed to working with our local and federal partners and citizens interested in reducing violent crime in the region.”
“Law enforcement has the greatest impact on taking violent criminals off the highways when we work collaboratively at all levels of government throughout the criminal justice system,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Eric Olson said. “The Patrol is committed to this plan and working with our partners and citizens to help make the region safer.”
“We are committed to doing everything we can at the state level, but we can’t do it alone. It is truly a team effort, and everyone has to do their job to keep Missourians safe,” Governor Parson said. “None of us, no matter where we’re from, want to see our children being shot in the streets. If we are to change violent criminal acts across our state, we must do our jobs, work together, and support our law enforcement officers to accomplish that goal.”