I’m for safer streets. I’m for Kimberly Gardner.
Public safety should be the top priority of every elected official in St. Louis. Anyone who takes an Oath of Office should be laser focused on making our streets safer by preventing gun violence, stopping human trafficking, and ridding our communities of the heroin and opioid epidemic. That is why I fully support and applaud the efforts of Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner to achieve these goals and more.
Kimberly Gardner has always put the people of St. Louis first. Her intelligence, leadership and character are why I endorsed her to fill my seat in the Missouri House of Representatives when I was elected to the state Senate. While in the House, she proudly represented the people of North St. Louis for two terms before being elected by voters as the first black circuit attorney in the history of our city.
Her progressive message of criminal justice reform, reducing violent crime, and restoring trust between police and the citizens they serve resonated with voters, and her commitment to these efforts has never wavered.
Gardner has reduced, and in many cases abolished, cash bond for minor, nonviolent offenses to ensure that precious resources are not wasted on jailing the poor.
She has worked to help those with substance use disorders find treatment through expanded diversion and drug court programs, ensuring that the catch-and-release mindset that too often trapped people in a cycle of crime and addiction will now be broken with treatment and care. Gardner also worked with my office this past year to secure an additional $250,000 in the state budget to support diversion programs in the City of St. Louis.
She helped the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department recognize corruption within its own ranks by forming an exclusion list to identify more than two dozen officers whose own misconduct had jeopardized the meaningful convictions of dangerous criminals. Similar lists in other cities helped clean up those departments, and now it’s being put to good work here.
Gardner is also helping to place more attention and resources toward the deadly epidemic of opioid deaths – including overdoses from heroin and fentanyl – by ceasing the ineffective practice of spending time, energy and money on low-level marijuana possession charges. By focusing on more potent, dangerous, and deadly drugs, we will save lives in our city.
This past year, Gardner worked with my office to pass statewide legislation to protect the identities of witnesses who are helping law enforcement catch violent criminals. Previously, criminals could use a legal loophole to find out the identities of witnesses cooperating with an investigation; this led to witness tampering and bad guys going free. Gardner brought attention to this issue and closed this loophole when we successfully amended provisions from legislation I sponsored to Senate Bill 224, which became law last month.
This new law means that the days of criminals threatening and harassing witnesses are over. This is an important tool to help law enforcement fight crime, and it would not have happened with Gardner’s leadership.
Of course, as with any series of victories, there will always be those who wish to protect the failed status quo by attacking those whom the people have chosen to lead. I am not surprised that there are some who would try to undermine such a progressive and successful circuit attorney, but I am disheartened at the baseless attacks that continue to distract our citizens from the shared goal of improving public safety.
Kimberly Gardner is exactly the kind of tough, smart and successful circuit attorney that St. Louis needs right now, and I am proud to support her in her efforts to clean up our streets, save lives, and lift up every citizen who has been ignored for too long.
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) represents Missouri’s 5th District in the Missouri Senate.