St. Louis hopes extra patrols, more youth programs will help avoid summer crime spike
More St. Louis police officers will start working mandatory overtime next month as part of the city’s efforts to avoid an expected spike in crime over the summer.
Some officers are already working 12-hour shifts to deter cruising in downtown and the North Riverfront neighborhood. That number will grow on June 10, giving the department the ability to put more officers in higher-crime areas between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The additional staffing comes with flexibility, said Lt. Col. Michael Sack, commander of the Bureau of Community Policing.
“The watch commander who is going to be in charge of the detail on any particular evening will have the freedom to move officers about as they see fit, based on radio calls and their own personal experience and recent violence where there might be the potential for retaliation,” Sack said.
In addition to boosting police presence, the city has directed $1 million in federal grant funding toward youth summer programs at seven St. Louis Public Schools. The Gateway Region YMCA will use public safety sales tax revenue to do youth pop-up programs, often later in the day. And the city’s recreation centers will host their usual free summer camps.
“I grew up in the ‘90s, where homicides were at their highest in the city of St. Louis,” said Heather Taylor, a former homicide detective who is now a senior public safety adviser for the city. “If it wasn’t for rec centers and having that outlet, and having these resources available to me, I wouldn’t be a college graduate. I wouldn’t be standing here.”
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann