St. Louis alderman pleads for police action after violent weekend

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by Chris Stanford / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 10:14 AM

 (KMOV) --A new plea directed at St. Louis police is a direct result of recent city violence, including shootings that injured or killed children. The issues boiled down to resources and making sure officers are where they are needed most. 

A shooting Sunday afternoon on Jefferson near Market left one woman dead and two men injured.  That shooting is the latest in a wave of city violence.  Alderman Antonio French wants to make sure St. Louis police are being held accountable.

 “When people are worried about letting their kids walk outside or walk about the city, that's something they want to see (that) the city is taking seriously and they want to see that action is actually occurring,” says 21st Ward Alderman French.

 French serves on the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee, which now oversees city police. French is offering solutions to curb the violence because he says police redistricting demands more from officers to patrol the now larger 6th district in North St. Louis.

 Two areas of concern are Fairground Park and O’Fallon Park, says French who’s trying to convince St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson the parks need full-time city Park Rangers.

 “It comes (down) to resources and the way we've been hotspot policing (which) will extend to park rangers and we've put them into neighborhoods, into the areas that are experiencing the problems.  We're addressing those issues,” says Chief Dotson.

 When asked about crime in French’s ward, Dotson said it’s down 50% in the first two months of the year. French is worried more about violent crime.

 “What the chief has to understand is that when he comes out and tries to convince us otherwise, he undercuts his own credibility in the community, says French. “The thing that really makes people afraid in their community is violent crime,” he adds.

 Dotson is putting Park Rangers at Fairground Park he says.  French vows to work until law enforcement has a presence at O’Fallon Park.  He says if he can find $50,000 in the budget, Dotson will assign a ranger to the park.

 Also at issue is how often Chief Dotson is addressing the Public Safety Committee to update elected officials on how resources are being allocated and what exactly police are doing to combat city violence.

 “I've offered to go every month or so, when they ask me to go, I'm going,” says Chief Dotson.

 This chief has addressed the committee once so far this year.  He’s agreed to meet with them again April 15. 

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