Illinois State Police Introduces New Unit Designed To Reduce Crime In East St. Louis
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
EAST ST. LOUIS — Illinois State Police introduced a new effort to help alleviate violent crime in East St. Louis during a press conference Wednesday at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center.
The new Public Safety Enforcement Group is designed to assist the East St. Louis Police Department with crime investigations.
“For over two decades the Illinois State Police have supported the people of East St. Louis in the fight against violent crime with some notable successes but also, frankly, with some deep-rooted challenges,” Brendan Kelly, Illinois State Police Director, said. “The per capita homicide rate remains disproportionately high, and far too many of those homicide investigations remain open. This enduring, disproportionate, senseless and unnecessary violence is offensive to the conscience and repugnant to the values of those who serve in the Illinois State Police.”
The city has witnessed 36 homicides so far this year. The latest occurred four days before Thanksgiving when an East St. Louis man was shot to death in his car. Last year, there were 34 murders in the city.
East St. Louis has one of the nation’s highest murder rates. Between 2000 to 2018 there were 453 murders within the 14-mile borders, 83% of which were gunshot related, according to a 2019 Belleville News-Democrat investigation. Additionally, 75% of those murders went unsolved.
The Public Safety Enforcement Group consists of 16 officers, including Illinois State police officers, East St. Louis police officers, and federally assigned task force officers. The group will handle investigations dealing with non-fatal shootings, aggravated assault, sexual assault and robbery. East St. Louis Police Department will house the new unit.
“They’ve always provided us with assistance, but this agreement is an extreme, extreme large amount of help that we couldn’t get but have needed for a long time, and we welcome them with open arms,” East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry said at the conference. “And even in the small amount of time they’ve been here, we’ve noticed good progress.”
“With this PSEG agreement, I’m happy to say I think that next year, we’re going to do some great things here along with myself, Illinois State Police and the U.S Attorney .”
The unit’s investigations aim to prevent violent crime from escalating in in East St. Louis in part by seeking the community’s help, said U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft.
“The Public Safety Enforcement Group represents a commitment to the region and it represents a commitment to an idea,” Weinhoeft said. “We are here as part of a federal, state and local partnership.”
“PSEG is more of a philosophy that understands that law enforcement is here to serve. The goal is to increase the number of crimes investigated, to better serve the community, to build relationships and to improve and increase community participation in the law enforcement system.”
First results of the group’s work
Since October, the Public Safety Enforcement Group’s investigations resulted in eight felony charges through the St. Clair County State’s Attorney Office.
Among those are kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges, which were announced Wednesday afternoon.
Brothers Kenwyn Frazier, 36, and Kendrick Frazier, 34, were charged in connection with an August 13 kidnapping of Kein W. Eastman, 36, according to Illinois State Police. The Fraziers are both from East St. Louis and have not been arrested.
Kelly said the investigation of Eastman’s kidnapping began when East St. Louis police officers were sent to a home in the 1700 block of North 43rd Street, and Eastman’s grandmother told the police he had been taken away from her home at gunpoint.
After conducting an extensive investigation, include dozens of interviews with witnesses and obtaining videos and records, the Public Safety Enforcement Group determined that the situation began when Kenwyn Frazier accused Eastman of stealing his personal property, according to Weinhoeft.
Kenwyn Frazier is accused of kidnapping Eastman from his home and driving him to a location on Kansas Avenue, where he was joined by his brother Kendrick. Weinhoft said after the Frazier brothers were unable to locate the items they were searching for, Kendrick Frazier shot Eastman with a .45-caliber handgun. His body has yet to be recovered.
Jasmine Crawford, also of East St. Louis, was charged with obstruction of justice for concealing part of a doorbell camera that revealed segments of the crime. Crawford was arrested earlier this month.
The U.S. attorney’s office issued federal arrest warrants for the Frazier brothers, who haven’t been found.
Authorities are asking anyone with knowledge of the crime to call the U.S. marshal at 1-800-336-0102.
DeAsia Paige is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.