Every year, St. Louis spends nearly 60% of our budget on public safety, and less than 1% on health and human services. We must re-envision public safety to create a safer St. Louis.
Invest in social services, alternatives to incarceration, and job programs to address the root causes of crime.
Empower our community to develop proactive public safety strategies.
Increase meaningful oversight of police to ensure police practices are fair and effective.
The city of St. Louis is at a pivotal moment in time. The Ferguson Uprising propelled the metropolitan area into a heightened state of awareness regarding issues of policing, accountability, and public safety.
I. INVEST IN REAL PUBLIC SAFETY
It’s paramount that we move away from the failed model of ‘arrest and incarcerate’ policing to one that redefines public safety as ensuring the stability of neighborhoods, families and individuals.
This can be accomplished by applying remedies to poverty, and other causes of crime, by resolving the root issues of crime. To that end providing jobs, safe housing, affordable healthcare, schools equipped to address all student’s needs, and much more, will bring about the change needed in the 18th ward.
I support the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression’s campaign to make St. Louis safe by divesting in the police and reinvesting in real public safety in order to provide services addressing the root cause of crime - poverty.
II. LOCAL CONTROL OF THE POLICE
In 2013 control of the police was transferred from Jeff City to the people of St. Louis. As alderperson of the 18th ward one of my initiatives will be to further develop the Board’s role in this new structure. I believe the Board of Aldermen should provide more vigorous oversight to make sure police practices are fair and effective.
III. CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OF THE POLICE
The Civilian Oversight Board (COB) was established in 2015. As alder I want to ensure that the COB lives up to its mandate of civilian oversight and transparency.
I recognize the COB needs to be more engaged with the community by providing Town Halls and other outreach efforts to inform the community of its presence and mandate.
The COB has the ability to audit police policies and procedures. This is a vital function of the COB because it goes to the heart of addressing toxic police culture. A high priority is an audit of the Civilian Disobedience Team, SWAT/Mobile Reserve and the Force Investigative Unit.
I support the creation of a Department of Civilian Oversight (DCO). Currently the Public Safety Director is in charge of both the police department and the COB which poses an appearance of conflict of interest. In order for the COB to be truly independent it needs to be separated in its entirety from the police department.
The DCO could also house the Force Investigative Unit, which investigates police shootings,making it independent of the police department. The DCO could also create and house an Office of Jail Oversight.
IV. SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS
Research has determined that providing street lights is as effective, if not more effective, than providing surveillance cameras in deterring crime. Nonetheless, a surveillance network is already in place through the coordination of business cameras and the police department. The creation of the Real Time Intelligence Center (RTIC) threatens our privacy, risks further police targeting of African Americans, and spends enormous amounts of money that could go into effective ward projects.
At a minimum, it is crucial that legislative oversight is established to protect the privacy of individuals and determine the effectiveness of the RTIC. I support Privacy Watch STL’s bill to establish this oversight.
V. POLICE BODY CAMERAS
Body cameras may in theory provide some police accountability, but they also have the potential of becoming walking 24/7 government surveillance. If we implement body cams, we need policies to make sure their use is focused on accountability. I support the model policies created for St. Louis by Drone Free St. Louis: http://bit.ly/BodyCamPolicy
VI. RACIAL PROFILING
Missouri passed a racial profiling bill in 2000, but Black drivers in St. Louis are still twice as likely as whites to be stopped while driving, 44% more likely to be searched and 50% more likely to be arrested. We need the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to stop this disparity of treatment. We also need to stop profiling pedestrians (walking while black). Residents of the 18th ward have a right to be safe in our own neighborhoods, to drive to work or walk to the corner store without being harrassed. I also support passage of a stronger bill in Jeff City to end racial profiling: http://bit.ly/RacialProfilingBill
VII. ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE [ESOP]
I support ESOP and their efforts to expose racist, abusive, unprofessional police behavior and practices. While I support moving away from relying on the police and shifting to a stronger social services approach to crime, I recognize that there is also a need to shift the police culture from within. ESOP is bravely stepping up to the plate and pushing to make these necessary changes.
SUPPORTING OUR FUTURE
Sixty percent of property taxes fund our public schools. We must be strategic in handing out tax breaks to ensure our schools have the funding they need to operate successfully.
Restore funding for after-school programming.
Support our youth through meaningful summer jobs programs.
Expand youth mentorship programs.
In the 18th ward, economic development looks different depending on which side of Delmar you consider. We must ensure that development enriches all of our community, without displacement.
Let residents set funding priorities for 18th ward tax dollars through participatory budgeting.
Ensure that development meets community needs.
Create home repair funds for 18th ward residents, without strings.