Today, other stakeholders in the criminal justice system and I had a productive conversation about how to address the chronic violent crime St. Louis has been plagued with for more than four decades. I appreciate the invitation from Governor Parsons to collaborate on these important issues. While it’s no comfort to those who have been victims of violence, I believe we are making progress.
One of the most effective ways to seriously address violent crime is to be more strategic in our approach and address it as the public health crisis it is. Doing things the same way we always have is not going to solve our crime problem. There are two main things I believe we can do to reduce violent crime right now.
We need to deploy more strategic resources to help investigate unsolved violent crime such as murders and gun violence. We need to provide necessary resources to crime victims and witnesses to help stop the cycle of violence that fuels violence in our streets.
Responding to the governor’s invitation, here is what I’ve requested:
Additional resources for crime victims and witnesses. Research indicates that crime victims and witnesses often become future offenders due to the unresolved trauma they experienced. People who are hurting, hurt other people. We need more resources to offer victim and witness protection, counseling, social services, and intervention and mental health services. We have seen important progress in the services we have offered to date with our limited resources. There is so much more work to do.
Crime Strategies Unit (CSU) Expansion: Most violent crime in St. Louis such as homicides and gun-related offenses remain unsolved. We have a very proficient CSU that has the ability to address and solve complex crimes, such as the multi-count, multi-defendant MetroLink robberies. We asked for additional funding to expand our CSU so that we can solve more crime and better hold the crime drivers accountable.
Crime Intervention Unit (CIU): I requested money to build a Crime Intervention Unit. Most violent crime is driven by a small number of loosely-connected actors. A CIU would enable us to work more closely with police, the Real-Time Crime Center and with our CSU data and technology to solve more complex crimes and remove the people from the streets who are creating the most violence.
Kimberly M. Gardner is circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis.