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Mayor Slay: The City Is Ready For Summer Crowds Downtown

(via Flickr/Payton Chung)

Mayor Francis Slay, the police department, and other city boosters say they are "staffed and ready" to deal with the expected influx of people into downtown St. Louis over the summer.

Much like last year, additional on and off-duty officers will patrol downtown, paying special attention to nuisance crimes like public intoxication or loud music. In addition, the officers will have the authority to do things like close streets or shutter sidewalk cafes to prevent problems from starting.

"There’s things that they can do from a discretionary standpoint for the public safety and enforcement of the ordinances," he said, adding that businesses are supporting the effort.

Missy Kelly, with the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, says those owners will be consulted before the police take any major action. The Partnership is paying for some of the off-duty officers, and Pinnacle Entertainment is adding additional funding for expanded patrols along Laclede's Landing, where it owns the Lumiere Casino.

Lt. Col. Larry O'Toole, who heads the Bureau of Community Policing, says it’s actually exciting for the department to be doing this kind of planning.

"Ten years ago, we weren’t talking about the success of Washington Ave.," he said. "We weren’t talking about crowds on Washington Ave., or even downtown, which goes to show that all the investments have placed have paid off. So this is good."

He says the stepped-up enforcement downtown will not draw officers away from other areas of the city.

Compared to the first four months of last year, crime is down 21 percent in the official downtown boundaries.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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