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St. Louis joins Biden’s effort to combat gun violence in US

St. Louis is taking part in President Joe Biden’s effort to combat gun violence by putting funds from the American Rescue Plan toward prevention programs. 

The Community Violence Intervention Collaborative will convene meetings of representatives from 15 jurisdictions across the country to provide technical assistance and learning opportunities to implement public safety strategies. The group will receive guidance from public safety experts who will provide technical assistance, identify best practices, and help initiate public health approaches. 

Mayor Tishaura Jones named St. Louis Public Safety Director Dan Isom to represent the city. 

“The American Rescue Plan is an opportunity to address the root causes of crime by investing directly in underserved neighborhoods and preventing violence before it occurs. This Community Violence Intervention Collaborative will help bring knowledge and more resources to St. Louis,” Jones said. “I’m proud our city is being recognized by the Biden administration for our efforts to reimagine public safety, and I urge the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to approve my $80 million relief proposal that devotes significant resources towards making our communities safer across our entire city.”  

The program is part of Biden’s plan to address rising gun violence in major cities. Other aspects of the plan include cracking down on gun trafficking and firearms dealers who violate the law. 

St. Louis will join representatives from Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; King County, Washington; Los Angeles, California; Memphis, Tennessee; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Newark, New Jersey; Rapid City, South Dakota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Washington, D.C. 

While St. Louis saw increased violent crime rates last year — part of the catalyst for last summer’s special session — the reporting of crime data from the city has halted this year due to a change in the police department’s tracking system. 

Jones’ direct relief proposal allocated $11.5 million of the city’s $80 million allotment to violence prevention programs as well as youth programming and job creation initiatives. Jones’ plan also includes investments in public health infrastructure to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates and provide economic relief to struggling families in the community. 

The proposal included more than $12 million for rental and utility assistance programs, and another $3 million is earmarked for mortgage assistance. The proposal is awaiting final approval by the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment. 

Police budgets in Missouri’s major cities have been a major topic of discussion this year; Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit over his plan to reallocate part of the police department’s budget for community engagement, intervention, and other public services. Jones proposed a similar cut for St. Louis last month to reallocate funds for social workers and community initiatives and has opposed a controversial gun rights bill recently signed into Missouri law.