I live not far from East St. Louis, IL, and still would know nothing about finding my way around the place, because it's a place you just don't go if you have any choice (and I tend to make sure I have that choice). The reputation for violent crime got a recent "boost" (if that's the appropriate term for something like this) recently, when a man shot and killed three women in their car last Saturday, with their children in the back seat (the children were not physically harmed).
East St. Louis violent crime, in fact, has officials scrambling for solutions.
Several initiatives were discussed, including increased public housing security, the introduction of a gang-suppression unit and increased police sweeps to prevent other violent acts.The assistant police chief had some bellicose words for violent criminals.
East St. Louis police are pulling resources from the federal government as well as the local level, including the Illinois State Police, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They also will implement the Community Oriented Policing program to address public safety issues.
With the initiatives that are being taken, Keller said the criminals are the ones who will not be safe in the community, instead of the community fearing the criminals.Interesting he should say that, since Illinois is the only state in the union that utterly outlaws carrying defensive firearms (Wisconsin prohibits concealed carry, but not open carry) in incorporated areas--meaning, it would seem, that the criminals are safer than those who choose to obey the law. In fact, one of the "solutions" is to crack down on those carrying firearms.
Assistant Chief Aubrey Keller added that there will be increased patrols throughout the city to target individuals carrying weapons and those perpetrating crime.And that brings us to Mayor Alvin Parks:
Parks gave a reminder that Illinois does not allow concealed carrying of guns.Which is just fine, I suppose--unless you happen to be attacked while on the streets, in your car, or inside a store.
"You have the right to bear arms, but you have the right to bear them within your home, not on the streets, not in your cars, not inside stores," Parks said.
Even so, Assistant Chief Keller has the audacity to exhort citizens to help with the crime-fighting efforts.
Officials are also asking for community involvement.Hear that, East St. Louis residents? If you notice any nefarious activity, you just go up to the miscreants, unarmed (of course), and set 'em straight.
"This is not just a police matter, this is a community issue," Keller said. "This is a community effort, it's a community problem and we need all participation to bring resolution."