ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay wants to hire 160 additional police officers over the next two years, and has ordered his staff to start looking for a way to come up with the $8 million a year it would cost to pay for them.
Crime in the city had been going down for the past several years; so much so that in 2012 the city began reducing the size of the police force through attrition.
But things began to change in August when the crime rate in the city started to spike.
Slay says he believes is related to the unrest in Ferguson.
'I think there is a lot more tension in the community,' Slay said. 'I think some criminals are feeling emboldened and being more aggressive. Those things are anecdotal but I don`t think it`s a coincidence.'
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the city can't afford not to hire the additional officers.
'It is an investment we have to make,' he said. 'If we aren`t safe, if we don`t feel safe, than economic development doesn`t happen and we don`t get better roads, better schools, better jobs, better quality of life."
Slay says he does not know where the money will come from, but he is not ruling out a tax increase.
Dotson says the additional 160 officers would significantly improve the department`s hot spot policing.
'Overwhelming presence of police officers in any area has a lasting effect, so if we are able to saturate areas better and keep that pressure up in those areas for longer we get better outcomes,' Dotson said.
Slay says he wants his staff to figure out how to come up with the money fast---perhaps in as little as a couple of weeks.
Dotson says along with the money for more officers, the proposal also includes $1 million to fund other crime prevention measures and $400,000 for additional officer training about how to build trust and recognize bias.