New police chief, public safety director discuss plans to reduce crime

ST. LOUIS - New St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards answered questions from the Board of Aldermen Wednesday on how they plan to attack crime in St. Louis.

It’s no secret crime has been on the rise in St. Louis City.  The 199 homicides in 2017 was a 21-year high. That, combined with other violent crimes, present a huge job for Edwards and Hayden; one that Hayden is confident his department can do.

"I certainly believe I can commit to the promises I made. Committing to changing things and lessening crime. It thinks it's going to be difficult, but I'm ready for the challenge and officers are ready for the challenge and I'm looking forward to tackling it.”

Several aldermen voiced concerned over police districts that were redrawn four years ago after being in place for more than 50 years.  Nine districts became six.  Edwards and Hayden said they're considering a change.

“It's important we have policing in every corner of the City in St. Louis.  It's important we put officers where they are needed," Edwards said.

The duo has put together a multi-jurisdictional carjacking collaborative, launched a strong community police program geared towards kids, fixed problems with 911 calls, and has promised to clean up Natural Bridge between Grand and Goodfellow.  Thirteen deaths have happened on Natural Bridge since April of last year.

Edwards said he wants officers to be everywhere in the city.

"We hope to police at a rate that hasn't been policed in that area in many years," he said.

But they need more police being down 124 officers, with 78 in the academy at present.

However, Ewards said they cant do it alone and need the public's help.

"Above all, we need citizens to help us. We can't accomplish great public safety unless there's participation by our citizens,” he said.

Both Hayden and Edwards talked about the seriousness of black on black crime and pledged to address that problem. They said the community has to offer options that are better for education and activities for younger kids.