One of the biggest challenges we currently face is making sure we fully develop the skills and talents of our youth and steer them away from violent crime. The current crisis in violence and crime is deep and pervasive and will require leaders on all levels who can reach these young people and bring them the resources, understanding and change that they so desperately need.
I have taken every opportunity possible over my years in public service to provide opportunities for our youth. If there is an opportunity to invest in our recreation centers, it is my duty to make it happen. If there is an opportunity to invest in youth programming, it is my duty to take that opportunity. If there is a project coming to the City of St. Louis and a chance to invest in our youth and provide an opportunity to learn, it is my duty as a leader to give them a chance to benefit from that project.
Here are some of the strides I’ve made towards addressing the issues of public safety in St. Louis:
Requested the City to deploy 'Ceasefire Project' to decrease crime rates in the City. In 2018, I made a formal request of the Executive Branch and the Public Safety Department to work with the Department of Justice to implement the Ceasefire Program, also known as Group Violence Intervention. The Ceasefire Project brings problem-solving policing to a new level. It has proved to reduce crime in urban areas up to 50 percent. It is a joint partnership between academia, nonprofit, clergy, business leaders, city services, the police and more all working together to reduce crime. Since the request was initiated, I've met with Missouri Governor Parson to discuss State resources in the implementation of the plan. I also gained support for the program from the Public Safety Director, local nonprofits, businesses, neighborhoods and more.
Provided jobs and opportunities to more than 20,000 young people. Youth Crime Prevention funds, Prop S, were awarded to more than 25 organizations across St. Louis. Prop S was established by a 2008 measure sponsored by President Reed and approved by voters to support organizations engaging in crime-prevention strategies across the city. The funds have assisted tens of thousands of young people in St. Louis. Just in the past 5 years, there were more than 20,000 youth engaged by these organizations in St. Louis with these funds
Brought federal dollars to the City to fight the opioid epidemic. I sponsored legislation that granted the City $1Million to fight the opioid crisis in our City. Ordinance 70852 funds a crisis response team to assist overdose patients with whatever resources they may need - job training, TANF, addiction treatment and more. The funds are also being used to collect data to better prevent future overdoses in our City.
Public Safety Plan. I drafted and passed ordinance 70755, which calls upon the City's Public Safety Director to create a data-driven public safety plan based upon nationally best practices. The annual plan is a way for the City to always be on track to reduce crime. No more reinventing the wheel. We need to adopt a plan that is proven effective to reduce crime.
Sponsored “Rock the Community” Event. Rock the Community holds various events throughout the City to improve relationships between the police and the community. The goal of the event was to bring opportunities and hope to young people in communities across the St. Louis-area.
Increased funding for the criminal justice system. Ordinance 70606 directed funding to a critical piece of the criminal justice system to make a significant impact on reducing and preventing crime through victim and witness services, diversion programs and community engagement.
Secured a body camera pilot program free to the City of St. Louis. Ferguson happened right here at our doorstep. Nearly 75 percent of large police departments in the country have implemented body cams for officers, including many in our region. The cameras will help to bring accountability, transparency and build trust in the community.
Decriminalized Marijuana. I sponsored and passed an ordinance to reduce fines for first-time offenders caught with 35 grams of marijuana or less to a fine of $25 and treats it like a traffic ticket.
Supported Crime Victims. Annually, I join families who have lost loved ones in the City to violence for a special candlelight vigil to honor their lives and bring awareness to crime in our City. I also facilitate the Crime Victim Compensation program through my office. The program can provide eligible crime victims with up to $50,000 for items such as funeral costs, counseling, lost wages etc. due to being a victim of crime.
Increased funding for our Recreation Centers. I Sponsored Ordinance 70121, which made desperately needed improvements of our rec centers.It provided additional free or low-cost recreational, educational and social opportunities for all residents of the City of St. Louis.
Led legislation to establish the Civilian Oversight Board. After several years of pushing this legislation forward, the Board of Aldermen was able to establish a Civilian Oversight Board, Ordinance 69984. In 2017, I along with other members of the Board were able to add subpoena power to the COB, Ordinance 70756.
Hosted the City’s first Gun Buy Back Program. In 2014, I introduced Resolution 206 to allow gun buyback programs in the City of St. Louis following changes in the state statue that prohibits the City from participating in buybacks
Created the City’s first Cyber Harassment Law. In response to increased concerns of online bullying, I introduced Board Bill 404 in November 2007 to make cyber harassment illegal in the City of St. Louis with violators subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and up to 90 days in jail. The bill passed into law with broad support to become Ordinance 67800. The bill defined harass as "to engage in a course of conduct that serves no legitimate purpose and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress...or when the conduct consists of contact by a person over age eighteen with a person under the age of eighteen."
Temporary AC Installed at the Medium Security Institute. I was informed that people awaiting trial at MSI were exposed to dangerous heat with no air conditioning. I found a cost-effective solution and contacted the Board of Public Service to implement temporary units. Within less than a week, temporary units were installed.
Tackled issues of family and domestic violence. I established a domestic violence support fund in partnership with the St. Louis Family Violence Council. The program “Spare Change for Change,” will launch this fall at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The goal is to raise awareness and provide funds for victims.