Officials hosting the St. Louis Crime Summit for the St. Louis region on Tuesday, September 10 did not include any elected prosecutors. Despite the overwhelming message sent by St. Louis city and county voters through the election of Wesley Bell and me as top prosecutors, neither of us was invited to offer our input and resources.
Despite the fact the organizers said, “Everyone joined together to find solutions,” they didn’t include the two leaders elected by the people to address violent crime.
Violent crime has plagued this region for decades. There are no magic bullets or one-sized-fits-all solutions. Yet, Wesley Bell and I are implementing solutions that address long-term violent crime, and we were not included in this most important conversation. We are doing things differently, and the caretakers of the status quo are unmistakably frustrated with that.
There is a clear and concerted effort to isolate the two reform-minded elected prosecutors in our region. Why is that? Is it because we think differently about the way we should address long-term crime reduction? Is it because we hear the cries of people who want us to both cooperate with police while holding them accountable for actions that erode trust from the public?
What might be even more disturbing than the exclusion of the two top elected prosecutors is the relentless outrage over a tweet. Yes, a tweet. No outrage from the police union leadership over children being killed. No outrage over the fact that only two suspects have been identified in all of these killings. Outrage over a tweet is what the police union decided they would leverage to further divide our city.
I want to send a clear yet strong message to the people of this great city: I stand with you and by you. I hear your calls for a more accountable criminal justice system. I will continue to fight for you and for your safety. I will continue to hold people accountable regardless of their occupation and position in life. I will not waiver from the commitments I made to you, and I will address violent crime as the public health crisis that it is.
Kimberly M. Gardner is circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis.