The St. Louis Initiative to Reduce Violence is a new effort for both the city and county to prevent wrongdoing in its tracks by starting at the source – neighborhoods and communities. The grassroots effort is incorporating a partnership of police officers and community leaders to curb wrongdoing by creating a more approachable relationship among youth and families.
The program was created by Pastor B.T. Rice of New Horizon Christian Church, who also serves as the chairman of police affairs for the St. Louis County branch of the NAACP. At a press conference held today at UMSL, he said it was time to reclaim our communities.
“We’ve waited too long. And the longer we wait, there’s a lost life of some child, some young person’s whose blood will be running in the streets of our city," he said. "Now is the time for us to move.”
St. Louis City chief of police Sam Dotson believes that this program’s success is just as dependent on neighborhood citizens than law enforcement. Even though the city police arrested 30,000 criminals last year, says Dotson, community support is still needed. “There’s certainly a cycle that’s putting people into situations where they needed to be arrested," he noted. "So what we’re looking for is the society and community to step up and disrupt that cycle, whether it’s an economic program, whether it’s an education program whether it’s substance abuse treatment – find ways to stop feeding that cycle, because it overwhelms the system.”
Former chief of police and UMSL professor Dan Isom, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis' James Buford, and St. Louis County chief of police Tim Fitch were also in attendance.
Individuals can get involved by visiting sirvstl.org.