Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Tuesday his "Safer Streets" Initiative, an effort to quell alarming violent crime rates in the St. Louis area. Unveiled in a press conference earlier today, the Safer Streets initiative will feature unprecedented cooperation between the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Attorney General’s office, as well as various law enforcement agencies.
Attorney General Schmitt announced the partnership between the Attorney General’s office and the United States Attorney’s office, stating, "In this partnership, Assistant Attorneys General on my team will be specially designated to ensure the Attorney General’s office can more fully prosecute violent crimes."
"These special prosecutors will handle all types of cases, specifically homicides, carjackings, and gun crimes. They will work hand in hand with our federal partners to effectively prosecute violent crimes," stated Schmitt. "These experienced prosecutors, under the director of Cris Stevens and Christine Krug in our office and in partnership with U.S. Attorney Jensen and his excellent team, will focus on areas in the city where crime is most rampant."
Attorney General Schmitt also reaffirmed his commitment to keeping Missourians safe and fighting back against violent crime. "It is my job and my number one duty to keep Missouri families safe. My family has lived in this region for generations. I want other families living in this region to feel that their children will grow up safely and will have the opportunity to prosper. The fight against violent crime is a fight worth carrying out," said Schmitt.
According to data obtained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the annual homicide rate (incidents per 100,000 people) in St. Louis has risen from 35.38 per 100,000 in 2012 to 66.42 per 100,000 in 2017. For comparison, in 2017, the homicide rate in Jackson County was 24.04 per 100,000 and the statewide rate was 9.78 per 100,000. In 2018, there were 166 homicide incidents as of November, the most recent month for which data is available. Additionally, in St. Louis City, there were 378 carjacking incidents throughout 2018 – more than one reported carjacking every day, according to data obtained by the St. Louis City Police Department.
Attorney General Schmitt’s Safer Streets initiative seeks to cut down on these alarming rates by pairing the Attorney General’s office with the U.S. Attorney’s office and making three to five prosecutors "Special Assistant United States Attorneys" to help assist in fighting and prosecuting violent crime. These prosecutors will be funded by the Attorney General’s office, but will be supervised dually by the Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Special Assistant United States Attorneys will handle all types of federal cases, specifically homicides, carjackings and gun crimes. The effort will be focused on specific geographic locations within St. Louis, and the increased prosecutorial support will assist local law enforcement’s efforts within this area. The initiative will also focus on continual community outreach.