Authorities look for ways to keep East St. Louis crime-fighting technique going

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 6:20 PM

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOV) – The WAVE program, an effective crime-fighting technique in the Metro East, continues to look for ways to stay funded.

 

Law enforcement officials from prosecutors to the officers patrolling the streets have said WAVE has been instrumental in reducing violent crime, but funding to keep it going is always a struggle.

WAVE involves several law enforcement agencies working together to get tough on crime around East Saint Louis.

The effort recently received a grant from the department of justice, but to show you how tough the competition can be, more than 90 agencies applied and only a dozen grants were awarded.

So for a program like WAVE to stay alive and continue to get funding, what SIU-Edwardsville Assoc. Prof. Dennis Mares finds in his studies can be the difference between life and death.

Mares is a criminologist working with WAVE and when it comes time to seek funding again, he will supply the information the program will use to show it’s a success.

But Mares said he cannot provide exact evidence that shows the program has reduced crime.

“At this point I cannot fully say. There’s anecdotal evidence it has reduced crime to some extent. There’s good evidence it’s garnered a lot of arrests and taken guns off the street,” said Mares.

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks has called WAVE “extremely effective,” and St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan kelly has called it “indispensible.”

Mares can pinpoint the crime hotspots, including what some might call the hottest of the hotspots, the John DeShields Housing Complex.

The program will basically use a handful of high-crime neighborhoods where enforcement will be stepped up in some, while being maintained at a regular level in others...

“WAVE will then be sent out for period of time that we pre-determine, three or four months,” said Mares. “Then we go back and see what has happened in these sectors, have we seen a serious reduction in crime?”

He says in the next couple weeks the decision will probably be made on which neighborhoods will get the stepped-up coverage.

 

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