ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. has been given a $1 million grant to expand their crime de-escalation program.

“For over a year, my administration has been working with community groups, civic leaders, clergies, law enforcement, and mayors across the state to find solutions to violent crime,” Governor Mike Parson said. “We know we have a serious issue with violent crime in Missouri, and the Serving Our Streets Initiatives is a very valuable tool in addressing these issues at the local level. We are excited to see the initiative expand, which is another great step in our overall efforts to combat violent crime and make our communities safer.”

The Serving Our Streets Initiative focuses on community outreach and direct engagement with citizens in high crime and poverty areas. The program focuses on gun violence de-escalation and providing resources to crime victims.

The grant money will be used to expand the program into other neighborhoods.

Surrounded by victims of violent crime, the governor awarded the $1 million grant to the Urban League. 

"If we can't get a truce between the adversaries, we will have to relocate one of them," said James Clark, who was talking about moving people out of town. One woman had to be moved to Austin, Texas to avoid becoming a victim. 

Parson acknowledged the current pandemic could be contributing to the rise in crime. 

"Whether there's a pandemic out there or a virus out there, this violent crime keeps escalating everyday," the governor said. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, Missouri is in the bottom 10 states when it comes to testing residents but its positivity rate is more than double the national average. 

Last summer as crime reached historic highs in the St. Louis metro, multiple lawmakers pleaded with Parson to call a special session to address crime. He did not. 

This year, which is also an election year, the governor did call that special session while lawmakers insist Parson is making this an issue now to show he is tough on crime. 

Parson's opponent, Nicole Galloway, sent this statement about the correlation between the rise in violent crime during a pandemic. 

"We are seeing a rise in cases in Missouri because of the governor's failure to take the steps necessary to contain the virus. The governor has no plan and no vision to address this crisis - and it's not clear he even cares."

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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