SLMPD plans to reduce downtown 12-hour shifts by end of month

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As the summer winds down, St. Louis police officers in the downtown and downtown west neighborhoods are going off extended shifts.

“Our goal is to have, to go back to the eight-hour shifts on the weekends after the weekend of August 27 and August 28,” said SLMPD Major Renee Kriesmann.

On June 10, SLMPD switched evening and night officers assigned to their Bureau of Community Policing and Specialized Enforcement to mandatory 12-hour shifts Friday through Sunday to address downtown crime more effectively.

Today, Major Kriesmann referenced the end of summer as part of the reason this initiative will end.

“Some of it is the history. During the summertime we certainly see an increase in violence, we certainly see an increase in cruising,” she said. “But, normally as we get to the end of the summer months, a lot of that decreases. Kids go back to school, kids go back to college. So, it’s a good time to really let the officers who have worked hard this whole summer, they worked really hard to keep people safe, and you know give them a little break as well.”

Originally, these longer shifts were supposed to last at least through the end of September.

“Honestly it’s not the number of hours work, it’s the work put into the hours,” said Matthew Spencer.

Spencer lives at Ely Walker Lofts in the Downtown West neighborhood, which has been the target of criminal activity throughout the summer, among other areas.

“I haven’t seen a lot of repercussions when it comes down to like, all the delinquent behavior in our building,” he said.

Some residents like Spencer tell News 4 they think it may be premature to reduce weekend shifts.

“I would say you should let the statistics kind of dictate the hours required because if we’re still seeing crime, that should be the indicator that you should probably stay on 12-hour shifts,” said Spencer.

News 4s looked at SLMPD’s crime data for June and July, specifically focusing on crimes against persons.

In the downtown neighborhood, there were 33 crimes against persons this June compared to 46 in June 2021. 42 crimes this July compared to 84 last year.

However, Downtown West saw an increase in in-person crime for both the month of June and July. There were 33 crimes this June year compared to 21 in 2021 and 39 this July compared to 36 in 2021.

An SLMPD spokesperson responded to the reduction in 12-hour shifts with this statement:

“While we do not have any crime statistics to gauge specifically how effective the 12-hour shifts were, we continue to see an overall decrease in crime for the year. Specifically, a 19% decrease in overall crime in the month of June (compared to last year) and a 17.2% decrease in July (compared to last year). Our most significant increases continue to be related to Motor Vehicle Theft, which is due in large part to the significant increase in the thefts of certain KIA and Hyundai vehicles.”

Spencer says it’s more than just manpower on the weekends that is needed to turn the tide on future downtown crime.

“Arrests,” he said. “If you’ve got a criminal activity in progress there should be an arrest and some kind of a consequence associated with that. Because if the criminals aren’t afraid of anything because they have no consequence, and you won’t have a decrease in criminal activity.”