Officers commit to community-policing on Cherokee Street - KMOV.com

Officers commit to community-policing on Cherokee Street

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Devin Guajardo and Jazmon Garrett. Credit: KMOV Devin Guajardo and Jazmon Garrett. Credit: KMOV
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

"There's something new every day," said St. Louis City Police Officer Devin Guajardo.

Guajardo and her partner, SLMPD Officer Jazmon Garrett, have a job unlike any other member of the force.

While other officers bounce from crime to crime, the two trek up and down a 12-block stretch of Cherokee Street between Nebraska and Lemp Avenues.

The pairs' pretty unique assignment includes shaking hands and bringing smiles to faces of the community members and business owners that call the area home.

"They can just talk to us about anything and feel comfortable and not terrified," said Ofc. Garrett. "Some people have a stigma about police, it feels good that we can break it."

Guajardo and Garrett have been the only regular beat officers paid for solely by the department anywhere in the city since September 2016.

Still, even before then, performing foot beats weren't foreign to them.

"Me and my partner were already doing foot beats before this was even introduced to us," said Guajardo. "We would be out on Grand Avenue, walking the beat, trying to get to know people. So, this was nothing new to us."

Their commitment to community policing comes as issues over staffing shortages continue.

SLMPD's current roster of 1,184 officers is still 100 short of the department's optimal amount.

Yet, the Cherokee Street foot patrols are helping yield results. 

Crime is down over 8 percent collectively in the four neighborhoods that form the Cherokee Business District.

"It's not any cost to us," said Parm Pasta and Sandwich Company owner Diane Maijala. "It's a great addition to Cherokee street and we're happy to have them."

"It's a blueprint for success," said SLMPD District 3 Captain Shawn Dace.

Capt. Dace considers the Cherokee Street foot patrols a potential beginning for something bigger department-wide with an increase in officers.

"This is something that could be tried in other sectors of the city," said Capt. Dace. "They love them down there. I get calls all the time from different folks about how much they appreciate having them down there and please don't take them away from us. So, we're going to keep them down there as long as we can."

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