City Forward

St. Louis Is Making All the Right Moves

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When we typically see a news report about the St. Louis Police, it is about them responding to a crime on an ongoing investigation. That’s why it was so refreshing to see Fox’s coverage of steps the city is making to reduce crime in our city.

And this wasn’t the first time the city has talked publically about reducing the crime rates. Just before the holidays, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Dan Isom delivered his crime report to the Board of Police Commissioners. The report was promising, stating that crime had dropped 40 percent over the last five years.

This is no small feat for a city that, until recently, was labeled as the “most dangerous city in America.” Chief Isom followed up the good news by announcing with a recommendation for the city and his department to partner with the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice to with a goal of seeing those numbers drop even more.

Richard Rosenfeld, Curators’ Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, will lead the charge at the university staring during the 2012-13 academic school year. He will focus on identifying best practices of metropolitan police departments and work with other agencies to ensure the downward crime rate continues. But this won’t just be an academic exercise. UMSL criminologists will work in St. Louis Police Headquarters, directly with police officers to help implement and evaluate crime reduction initiatives.

While St. Louis is like most other cities in its goal to reduce crime and make its city safer,
I think it is fair to say that it has taken it more seriously than most. In fact, under the leadership of Mayor Francis G. Slay, the city engaged IBM to take advantage of IBM expertise to improve public safety outcomes through better information management through the company’s Smarter Cities Challenge.

After an extensive review of the city’s policies, IBM provided the city with a roadmap that includes coordination of business process and flows of data throughout the public safety system, and identified opportunities for accountability and cost-savings through performance management, analytics asset management, operational streamlining and policy changes. Specifically, IBM’s overarching message is: Public safety is connected to virtually every city issue from housing and education to economic development and the social safety net. So all these systems must be aligned if the city is to prevent crime rather than react to it. The city must renew its focus on using data to track, analyze and predict outcomes across the range of city systems.

By partnering with academics and businesses that have a vested interest in seeing St. Louis become a safer city, I think our city is on track to move from being one of the most dangerous cities to becoming one of the safest.

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