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'Urban Crime Summit' to probe causes, solutions for violence plaguing St. Louis, Kansas City

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 3, 2013 - A four-day “Urban Crime Summit’’ will be held in two weeks in St. Louis and Kansas City. It will feature national, state and local law enforcement experts and local officials.

The summit will be held just weeks after St. Louis has regained control of its police department, after 152 years of state oversight. The changeover took place Saturday, in line with the ballot measure approved last November by state and city voters.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is hosting the summit, which he said Monday is intended “to explore meaningful responses to the high rate of urban crime facing metropolitan areas in Missouri.”

The summit is to be held Sept. 16-17 in Kansas City at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Sept.18-19 in St. Louis at the new Saint Louis University School of Law downtown. It is to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, with each session open to the public.

Koster, a Democrat, said in a statement that such a summit was needed, noting that "St. Louis and Kansas City consistently rank in the top 10 nationally for high levels of violent crime.”

“This summit is not simply another community meeting about a challenging topic,” Koster said. “This summit will bring to Missouri many of the nation’s preeminent scholars and most important voices in the law enforcement community. For four days, we will explore solutions to the heartbreaking problem of violence in our cities.”

“The goal of this summit is to examine the best practices developed throughout the nation to address urban crime and to develop a series of recommendations for meaningful policy reforms,” Koster said.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Department will kick off the summit on Sept. 16 in Kansas City.

The regular panelists are to include St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson, as well as their Kansas City counterparts: Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch will join the panel during the summit’s latter two days in St. Louis, Koster said.

Also participating will be St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and former St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom, now with the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Slay made clear that he is very concerned about illegal weapons. “Our streets are awash with guns,” the mayor said.

“It is far too easy for criminals to get them,” Slay continued. “This has got to stop. No matter where you live, how much money you make, or what the color of skin is, you have a right to live in a safe neighborhood and not have to worry about becoming a victim of a crime. We must send a message to the people who are all too willing to carry and use illegal guns in our cities: Your nonsense won’t be tolerated here.”

Dotson said in a statement, “This summit is a great opportunity to engage in conversation centered around new and innovative practices to combat crime in our region."

Koster said the agenda is still being prepared, but that the sessions will feature “national and regional experts on issues such as hot-spot policing, crime mapping, evidence-based policing, strategies to reduce gun violence, and the challenges facing felons reentering society.”

Confirmed presenters include:

  • Commissioner Raymond Kelly, New York Police Department
  • William Bratton, former New York Police commissioner, Boston Police commissioner and Los Angeles chief of police.
  • Cynthia Lum, director, and Christopher Koper, senior fellow, Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.
  • Harold Pollack, University of Chicago crime lab.
  • Nancy La Vigne, director of the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center.
  • Franklin Zimring, Berkeley Law, University of California.
  • Richard Rosenfeld, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • Jennifer Joyce, circuit cttorney of St. Louis.
  • Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County prosecutor.
  • Tammy Dickinson, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
  • Dave Starbuck, president of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, and retired sergeant, KCPD Gang Unit.
  • Daniel Isom, University of Missouri-St. Louis, former police chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

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