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Greitens rolls out St. Louis ‘Safety Plan,’ increasing highway patrol presence

By Brian Robbins/CLAYTON TIMES

ST. LOUIS – Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday detailed a new multi-agency effort to help address violent crime within the St. Louis region, but some say it’s going to add more headaches than solutions.

The multi-agency task force includes organizations such as The Missouri State Highway Patrol, The Missouri Department of Corrections, and The Missouri Department of Social Services to collaborate with one another to reduce the city’s violent crime rate.

Greitens said the effort is already underway and includes multiple resources that will attempt to suppress the level of crime in St. Louis.

“We are bringing together unprecedented state, federal and city resources to create peace in our communities,” Greitens said. “The special operations unit of The Missouri State Highway Patrol began working last night and they will continue to assist local law enforcement to suppress violent crime on our highways.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s special operations unit will attempt to reduce violent crimes on the interstates within St. Louis. This task force will utilize interstate firearms crime data to target violent felons and deploy interdiction personnel to intercept drug trafficking operations.

Additionally, The Missouri Department of Social Services will offer trauma training and consoling the St. Louis Public School system, that will attempt to make schools more supportive and safe.

Greitens added that the only solution is for Missouri to take action and attempt to alleviate the problem.

“The choice before us is clear. We can accept things as they are, or we can resolve together to take action and today we’re coming together to take action,” he said. “Too many people in the state of Missouri have been shot down. Today we are here to declare that the days of ignoring this problem are done.”

But not all are sold on the idea of a larger police presence.

Rep. Joshua Peters, D-St. Louis, said increasing more highway patrolmen to the interstates and around the St. Louis area does nothing to prevent violent crimes or getting at the root of the problem.

“It does not free up St. Louis officers because no one I know can remember the last time they saw a St. Louis police officer pulling speeders over on our highways,” Peters said in a written statement. “These officers would be welcome if they were interdicting the many addicts from St. Louis County, St. Charles and Jefferson County which come to St. Louis and fuel the drug sales and gang violence. But as long as they drive the speed limit I don’t know how Greitens’ folly accomplishes anything.”

Peters’ Democratic colleague Rep. Bruce Franks called the plan “bull shit.”

Emily Davis, a resident of St. Louis, agreed that the governor’s plan will only add more unrest in areas where the violent crimes are taken place.

“He is trying to emphasize an increased police presence in the area,” Davis said. “We know from studies and we know from history that increased police presence does not make people safer and it doesn’t improve the conditions of the community.”

Additionally, Davis added having police officers who aren’t familiar with the area’s communities can add even more unrest to these neighborhoods.

“You have police who are coming into communities that don’t know the communities, who don’t know the people, who don’t know the issues there,” she said. “When you don’t live there, when you don’t serve the people and only serve the people who you’re making money for, you’re not going to improve the relationship within that community.”