In the wake of nearly two dozen fatal shootings of children in and around St. Louis this year, Missouri Governor Mike Parsons announced on Thursday that he will provide state resources to help the city combat the violence.
“As Governor and a former law enforcement officer for 22 years, protecting the citizens of our state is of utmost importance to my administration. We know we have a serious problem with violent crime that must be addressed,” Gov. Parsons said Thursday.
Parsons talked with local leaders, clergy, and prosecutors in a series of meetings to discuss what concrete aid would be needed to address the recent wave of violence in the area and came up with several “action items.”
Starting October 1st, the governor said he would deploy 25 state personnel to “get more boots on the ground” to support law enforcement operations. The new personnel would join city, state and federal agencies already on the ground in St. Louis, including the ATF, U.S. Marshals and the police department in the St. Louis area.
The personnel includes state troopers who will assist local authorities with several initiatives like increased interstate highway patrols intended to apprehend violent criminals, remove them from the interstates and free up local officers to patrol other high-crime areas, he said.
Parsons also said that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will work with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to lighten the docket and expeditiously prosecute federal-level gun and drug charges.
The state will also pledge funding to victims advocacy and social services.
The total cost of the state’s commitment is up to $4 million.
The state’s aid comes at at time when when many St. Louis communities have faced a rash of homicides with victims as young as 2.
In July, a 10-year-old had been standing on the porch with his father was killed when shots were fired from a passing SUV. One month later, an 8-year-old girl was fatally shot after a fight broke out at a football jamboree.
“None of us, no matter where we’re from, want to see our children being shot in the streets,” Parsons said. “If we are to change violent criminal acts across our state, we must do our jobs, work together, and support our law enforcement officers to accomplish that goal.”