St. Louis Cops Ask Highway Patrol For Reinforcements To Help With St. Swisher Patrols Of Downtown Streets
St. Louis PD is outnumbered by the St. Swisher community activists.
Recent high-profile attacks downtown have prompted Police Chief Sam Dotson to ask the Missouri Highway Patrol to assign troopers to work beside city officers there.
Dotson said he contacted the patrol last week in response to a surge in violent crime downtown over the final five months of last year.
“As chief, that rise (in crime) was worrisome,” Dotson said on Wednesday.
Dotson said he foresaw a six-month pilot program in which about a dozen troopers would join forces with city police officers.
“We think that if we can work with the highway patrol to bring a little more police visibility and added presence downtown, it will have an impact on crime,” he said. “And if downtown thrives, the region thrives.”
Dotson said the plan should not be construed as a panicked response to crime.
“I don’t want to give people the idea that we’re shooting off flares because the city is sinking,” Dotson said. “That’s not the case. We’re just thinking outside the box so that, at the end of the day, our community is safer.”[…]
Police pledged added vigilance downtown after Bobby Christman, 19, a college student from south St. Louis County, was fatally shot Jan. 11 during a robbery attempt in the Washington Avenue entertainment district.
Christman’s killing was the latest case of violence in the area in recent months. In October, a lawyer walking on a well-trafficked stretch of downtown near a police substation was severely beaten by a group of teenagers during rush hour.
On Oct. 6, two men were killed in their car in a daylight shooting downtown near the Old Courthouse. Four days later, a man was killed and another critically wounded in a car near the federal courthouse. Police said the victims in those cases appeared to have been targeted.
According to figures from the police department, violent crimes in the downtown area were up 17 percent in 2014 over the year before.
In December, the city announced a proposal to allocate $8 million to add 160 police officers to the force over the next two years.
However, a proposed $200 million bond issue for infrastructure upgrades in the city, which officials had said would free up funds to hire more officers, died Monday on the floor of the Board of Aldermen.