Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Attorney General Koster's Urban Crime Summit, September 18: My Remarks

Let me begin by thanking Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster for his leadership and for putting this summit together. Keeping our communities safe takes hard work, vision and the fortitude to stand firm on the tough issues.  
Our first two days in Kansas City were informative, insightful and provided us with an opportunity to share some great information...but it’s nice to be home in St. Louis and it’s nice to be here in this beautiful new facility. Thank you, SLU Law School.
To those of you here today, whatever your interest in the topics is -- maybe you're in the business of public safety and criminal justice, maybe you're a scholar or a student, or maybe you're a concerned citizen -- whatever it is that brought you here, I cannot help but share with you the value of the conversations that occurred over the past two days in Kansas City.  
In Kansas City, we were hosted by Mayor Sly James and Chief Daryl Forte. Chief Forte will join us for tomorrow's session. He is tending to the loss of an officer from their police family. Mayor James, the Metropolitan Police Department’s thoughts and prayers are with you and your officers in Kansas City.
Let me also acknowledge Mayor Francis Slay for everything he's done to make this day possible. As you know, I've been Police Chief for a little more than nine months, and to have a symposium of this caliber to draw from, as we form our plans and strategies for further crime reduction, well, it's just incredible.
Let me also take a moment to recognize the speakers taking part in this summit. They represent the marquee names in our field - both in the theory and practice of law enforcement. If they made baseball cards for the superstars of crime reduction, every kid would want to collect names like Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton, Frank Zimring and Rick Rosenfeld.
I can't express their importance in our field any better than that.
In St. Louis, when we talk about crime reduction, we are talking about how to follow up on a pattern of success.
Twenty years ago, in 1993, St. Louis reported 267 homicides.  Last year, that number was 113.  That represents a reduction of 58%.  Fifty-eight percent!  In twenty years!
That decrease challenges us to find more ways to continue the reduction of murders. It challenges us to be more impactful and to leverage a combination of enforcement, social programs and community involvement.
Just for perspective, since the Great Depression, the lowest number of homicides in the City of St. Louis was in 1943 with 50 murders. We are much closer to that lower end of the range than the 267 murders in 1993.
Since 2006, crime in the City of St. Louis has seen more than a 40 percent reduction. We should be encouraged by our success, but also know that there is much more work to be done.
Let me give you some quick facts about violent crime in the City of St. Louis. So far year to date, we have seen:

1,686 victims of aggravated assaults with a firearm,
813 robbery victims with a firearm,
63 homicides committed with a firearm and
448 arrests for weapons charges.
That equals 3,010 crimes year to date committed with guns.

Last year, the City of St. Louis witnessed 113 homicides. That is too many. Indeed, one is too many…because we're not talking about numbers, we're talking about human lives.
To address this violence, we value our partnerships with federal agencies. A special thank you to Attorney General Koster for your leadership and support of the veto of House Bill 436, which would have clearly tied the hands of police officers throughout Missouri.
Over the next two days, we will talk about a gun docket that the judiciary here in the City of St. Louis rejected. We will not give up on public safety or ever accept mediocrity or complacency. We will seek support in Jefferson City to give direction to the Circuit Court.
We recognize that we can not do this alone. We will never limit ourselves to crime fighting alone and we will involve ourselves in the business of relationship-building.  
That's why we spend time and resources coaching youth sports through the Police Athletic League and send Academy recruits to read to school children through a program called Books and Badges.
This four day conversation is just the beginning of a new era of open candid dialogue about issues that impacts all of us...personally, economically, and socially... That's what we all believe, and that belief is what defines our mission.

Thank you all for caring enough to be here today.

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