St. Louis County Police Chief reflects on 2016, as he looks ahea - KMOV.com

St. Louis County Police Chief reflects on 2016, as he looks ahead to 2017

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Chief Jon Belmar (Credit: KMOV) Chief Jon Belmar (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - The chief of the Saint Louis County police department said 2016  may have been one of the most difficult years in his 30 year career. 

Chief Jon Belmar said this year's target on law enforcement officers across the country really took a toll on St. Louis County police. Especially, when they buried on of their own.

"We saw this tempo of officers being assaulted all over the country, officers losing their lives and that really culminated with Blake Snyder certainly our own loss," said Chief Belmar.

But, it was during those tragic times, the chief said he saw the best in his officers.

"Regardless of how dangerous this profession can be from time to time I think we're noticing that there is a tremendous amount of dedication out there a tremendous amount of courage out there with these police officers," said Chief Belmar.

In St. Louis County, overall crime is down more than 10 percent.

Chief Belmar said, "Looking back on 2016 our homicide rate fell that's a really good thing happen, burglaries really things that effect everyday people are down at the same time."

Gun violence is a constant concern. Aggravated assaults are up, but the chief has a plan.

"We're concerned about that but that's why we pivot and take a look at shot spotter and different programs like that to make sure that we're using every tool we possibly can so we can make these communities as safe as we can be," said Chief Belmar.

Safety is his number one priority in 2017. Year to year, that has never changed, but he's optimistic about the work he has ahead of him.

Chief Belmar is asking some important questions.

"How can we support the police officers in what they're doing do they have the correct equipment are they sufficiently paid for what they do, do we have an environment here where they feel like they can be successful," he said.

His answers helped him come up with a plan. Chief Belmar is working with County Executive Steve Stenger to implement a half cent sales tax.

"When we talk about economic development and wanting to bring industry into the St. Louis region we want to maintain St. Louis county as a safe place to live work and raise a family I think law enforcement police is a key component to that people have to feel safe," said Chief Belmar.

Taxpayers will vote on the proposal in April. The money would go to every police department in St. Louis County. Chief Belmar said he'd use it to increase salaries to hire more officers, retain them, and invest in technology.

"We have to plan ahead and say OK what resources might we need to do this as successfully as we can," said Chief Belmar.

This spring, the county is also installing a shot spotter. The technology detects gunfire and sends the information to police. It's another tool to combat crime.

Chief Belmar said, "I think it's going to give our officers the ability to have a better understanding of where violent crime might occur in the areas that they patrol and how we react to that."

The chief said he can't eliminate crime all together, but he hopes to see those numbers continue to trend down.

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