Two weeks ago St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly reported that, because of the combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, homicide in ESL was down by 85 percent (since June 1) and decreased, overall, by 30 percent since 2010.
The federal “Save Our Streets” effort was a major success and should be applauded and renewed, especially in light of recent events.
Those unfortunate events include a sudden surge in violence in the past week, including the shooting of a 14 year-old boy mowing his lawn, an 18 year-old man who was stabbed to death and the fatal shootings of three teens and wounding of two others outside the VIP nightclub.
Four murders and two shootings in one week, more than most communities experience in an entire year, now makes the overall reduction in ESL’s murder rate seem like a distant memory.
Unfortunately, that’s par for the course in East Boogie, where the negative often overshadows the positive.
However, there’s room for optimism amid the doom and gloom.
Mayor Alvin Parks Jr., in reaction to the deadly surge in crime, has imposed a curfew on teens 17 and younger. The curfew will be between the hours of 8a.m. and 3:30p.m. (on school days) and after 10p.m., as well as for those who are found loitering.
Those teens found in violation will, supposedly, be arrested.
In addition, police have been instructed to conduct more vehicle and pedestrian searches for drugs, weapons and open containers of alcohol.
And those who wear red or royal blue (gang colors) will be pursued as well.
I commend Mayor Parks (I didn’t stutter) for finally being proactive in this matter. It’s about time.
However, there probably should be some joint effort between the city and School District 189’s truancy department, as I severely doubt that the ESL jail has the capacity to accommodate the myriad students who can be found playing hooky or violating curfew on any given day.
I also question the legality of stating, on the record, that you will target individuals on the basis of the color of their garb, though I’m well aware of the connection to the gang lifestyle. Parks may want to rethink that one.
Also, the term “loitering” must be more clearly defined (by Parks), lest any law-abiding individual can be harassed for being in violation of such vague terminology.
But, radical circumstances call for radical remedies and ESL’s extreme levels of criminality and disregard for the law must be addressed.
The majority of good people in ESL cannot be held captive by fear and violence because a few rotten apples have hijacked the safety and reputation of a once stellar community.
Mayor Parks must work in conjunction with the federal, state and county authorities to reverse crime in ESL and restore some sense of normalcy to what was once an “All American City” only 50 short years ago.
And if it takes extreme measures, then so be it.
If you like my column, then you will love my radio show on WGNU-920am every Sunday from 4-5 pm. Please tune-in and call-in. I love to hear from my St. Louis American readers.