EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV.com) – Illinois State funding that put 13 troopers in East St. Louis to combat violent crime is working, according to Metro-East leaders.
The Metro-East Police Assistance team was launched last July, and it was formed to tackle six primary gangs in the area. The team wanted to reduce the murder rate that currently sits near 20 times the national average. According to the Metro-East Police Chief, the state police presence is helping to overcome the shortage in manpower.
“There is a significant gun running, gang … [and] drug problem in this area. I’m not talking about cannabis. I’m talking about heroin. I’m talking about cocaine,” said Timothy Tyler of the Illinois State Police.
In just three months, more than twenty weapons including AK-47s were confiscated off the streets. Police said they were intended for use in retaliation crimes.
The governor of Illinois has designated funds for two additional cadet classes with the intention of sending some of those new troopers to the 13-man team in the Metro-East.
“This is focused on the most violent offenders or those we feel have the potential to be the most violent offenders,” said St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. He added that this is not an arbitrary sweep.
There are currently 13 officers assigned to this task force, but the number can change at any time.