St. Louis problems cannot turn into violence in Madison County

Madison County is a great place to live and visit, blessed with a tremendous number of assets and resources. And while our wonderful communities attract thousands of visitors and tourists, law enforcement officials across our county are united in their concerns that our interstate and highway system also enables an unwanted reality: the cross-border crime.

Citizens, businesses and police know this all too well, but a few examples over the past few months bring out the tragic point. In late December, two Missouri residents were arrested after committing an armed robbery at Glen Carbon Walmart. In January, the eastern metropolitan area was horrified by the tragic death of Moneer Damra, a student at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Two Missouri residents have been charged in this shooting just off the SIUE campus. In February, a Missouri man was charged in a fatal shooting in Alton. And two weeks ago, a man from St. Louis was convicted of murder in Granite City.

Law enforcement officials across our county are reporting to me that cross-border crime is on the rise. It’s not hard to see why. Just across the St. Louis River, which has long had one of the county’s highest violent crime rates, is experiencing another spiral of violence. We believe the St. Louis crime wave is spreading to surrounding communities, and for Madison County that means via bridges and highways. The Madison County law enforcement community is committed to making every effort within the law to address this issue. Now is the time to redouble our efforts to prevent the St. Louis problems from turning into violence in Madison County.

The Cross-River Crime Task Force represents the next level in our united effort to tackle this problem and protect our communities. As the working group meets for its second full meeting this week, we have made significant progress and are moving towards the implementation of a charter for the organization, as well as an implementation plan. in stages.

First, if accepted by the membership, our charter proposal will put in place a legal structure for local law enforcement agencies to come together and operate the task force, united behind a commander and several deputy commanders. . As proposed, the commander will be jointly appointed by the state attorney and sheriff for a one-year term with the agreement of the current members of the task force.

Then the task force will take action and start making a difference.

The first phase will start in June. It will typically involve proactive monthly patrols in the county using existing networks of license plate readers (LPRs), collecting and analyzing crime data, and carrying out an inventory of assets and property. resources that can be used to fight cross-border crime. The task force will then have the tools to use historical and current data to identify real-time crime changes in the county so law enforcement can respond accordingly. The use of existing resources and the creation of better communication between law enforcement agencies will be the focus of the first phase.

The second phase will include the implementation of a larger and more extensive network of license plate readers. These assets have proven to be key tools in the fight against crime along the roads, but have only had limited deployment. If built, this new, larger network will be exponentially more powerful, and will help identify individuals with existing warrants and analyze the flow of crime not only within but across the county. It will also be an essential tool with Amber Alerts which help locate missing children and Argent Alerts which help locate missing seniors. In addition, the data on crime flows that this LPR network will create will allow the task force to use ever better tactics to counter criminals. (And to be clear: these license plate readers are not red light cameras and will be used to issue traffic quotes).

And of course, there will be no tolerance for racial profiling or discrimination as part of this effort. Fair and aggressive law enforcement helps deter criminals, making everyone’s neighborhood safer and advancing justice for all. Every community in Madison County deserves to be safe. This is our goal.

Law enforcement officials and residents of Madison County have been open about their concerns about cross-border crime. We look forward to embarking on this important new effort. As a state prosecutor, I intend to use all available resources to ensure that those who bring crime and violence to our communities will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Tom Haine is the Madison County State Attorney.

About Dianne Stinson

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