ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- St. Louis City leaders have 20 days to pass a budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. A hot topic of discussion is the city's police department's budget.
"There are people committing unspeakable crimes in our city. Everything from rape, to assault, and murder in our city. The way we're going to take them off the street is to have a well-trained, well-funded police department," president of the city's Board of Alderman Lewis Reed said
Reed said defunding the police isn't the answer. He said the city needs more officers on the streets to drive down crime, and that needs funding.
However, Mayor Tishaura Jones already has a plan in place to take away $4 million from the department.
"With the $4 million, we're increasing the number of social workers we have who can go out and work with both victims and suspects trying to divert people from this type of violent behavior," Daniel Isom said.
Isom is the city's interim public safety director. He said the $4 million will also be used for job placement and other preventative measures. Diverting crime before it happens.
President Reed said those things are necessary, but not at the expense of police dollars. "People who committed murder in the city aren't paying the price for it. They're not being brought to justice for that. You tell me how you're going to do that, how you're going to close all those cases without having the staff in place to do that," Reed said.
According to SLMPD's data, only 31 percent of homicide suspects were arrested in 2020. That's the lowest arrest rate for homicides in the city since at least 2002.
News 4 asked Mayor Jones what her plan is moving forward to address this violence. This is the statement she sent to our newsroom:
"We continue to witness the devastating effects gun violence has on our communities. We are responding to these incidents as quickly and efficiently as possible while we invest in the job and recreation opportunities that will keep our youth engaged with their communities."
Director Isom said there's multiple levels to crime prevention, including better housing, transportation and jobs.
A balanced budget has to be passed by June 30th.