The St Louis Regional Crime Commission, under the leadership of Ed Dowd, and the Executive Committee, have spent the last 2 years trying to figure out how to help reduce violent crime, protect innocent citizens and children in their neighborhoods, all while supporting law enforcement throughout the St. Louis region.
The St. Louis Regional Crime Commission is a 501(c) 3 in good standing, has been in existence for over 13 years, and comprises Chiefs of Police, civic leaders, and business owners.
We are looking at crime-fighting ideas from across the region.
The Vacancy Project
Until 2018, The St. Louis Regional Crime Commission's focus had been solely on providing funds to support and operate the Crimestoppers Tip Line, which engages the public to provide information leading to the arrest of violent criminals.
In 2018, it became clear that more needed to be done, particularly within Hayden’s Rectangle. There are over 3000 vacant and dilapidated buildings within that Rectangle. Many are not only a physical hazard to the residents but are also used by criminals engaged in violent crime and drug distribution. 13 injured and 2 dead over the past weekend. Many of those who were shot were inside the Rectangle.
The City of St. Louis typically knocks down 200-300 of these houses a year with an annual budget of 4MM. The city just announced it cut that budget in half to 2MM for 2020.
Also, roughly 1000 new vacant buildings come on to the list of 7000 vacant buildings in the City every year.
The Regional Business Council has worked with James Clark to conduct Operation Clean Sweep for three years. They have managed to knock down 74 houses in 3 years.
The bottom line is there is a real issue with scale and a severe lack of funding and focus on addressing the problem.
Over the last year, we have obtained the vacancy data from the City and the Crime data in Hayden’s rectangle from the Police Department. We have analyzed both and layered the information together to get a clear picture of how to demolish vacant buildings that immediately impact reducing violent crime in the Rectangle.
We have conducted a pilot demolition to ensure we understand the process and what is required to complete the demolition safely. We have negotiated an MOU with the City whereby the Crime Commission presents analyzed data on buildings to be demolished to the City’s LRA. The City checks to ensure the properties have been condemned, obtains the permits and utility shut-offs, hires the contractors (who have already been approved by the city), and then demolishes the building.
The Crime Commission is then provided with verification and photographic proof that the building was demolished. Once completed, the Crime Commission pays for the tranche of buildings that have been demolished.
The cycle then repeats itself, and no money is given to the City or contractors until the building has been demolished. It can be continued or stopped at any time. It is designed to be executed and funded tranche by tranche, block by block, and eliminate any chance that the money is used for anything other than the buildings identified to be demolished.