September 18, 2013
St. Louis, Mo. – The third day of Attorney General Koster's four-day Urban Crime Summit concluded this afternoon at the Saint Louis University School of Law. William Bratton, the only person to serve as the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department and Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, was the highlight of the afternoon session.
The panel joining Koster today included St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James. Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was attending the funeral of a Kansas City Police officer today and is expected to rejoin the panel for Thursday's sessions.
In his opening remarks, Koster pointed out that Missouri has ranked as high as ninth of the fifty states in the number of murders per-capita. "This senseless violence can be stopped if we demand it to be so," said Koster.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson pointed out that there have 3,010 crimes committed with a gun so far this year in the city of St. Louis.
"Our city is awash in guns," said Slay in his opening remarks. "We will not rest until everyone is safe." Slay promised to work with the Attorney General to develop and pass reforms in the state legislature to make Missouri's cities safer.
Dooley emphasized that it isn’t possible to hire enough police to eliminate crime and called for community involvement and engagement. "Change is our challenge," said Dooley. "We must embrace it."
Bratton, a strong advocate for community policing, stated that police need to address both violent crime, as well as other offenses that erode quality of life for residents, citing the so-called broken windows theory. While commissioner at New York, Bratton initiated many evidence-based policing practices. He described the evolution of similar practices around the country.
Bratton outlined the core principles of modern policing practices as "timely and accurate intelligence, rapid response, effective tactics, and relentless follow-up."
In response to a question from Slay about the appropriate number of police officers for a city, Bratton said that it was more important to consider how cities use their police force, rather than how many officers the city has.
In response to a question from Dotson, Bratton endorsed “stop, question, and frisk,” as a longstanding police practice, but stressed the importance of protecting individual rights. "The great debate going on around the country is the balance," said Bratton. He suggested that the tactic might have been overused and under-supervised in New York City, as the number of crimes was in dramatic decline while the number of stops rapidly increased. However, Bratton strongly supported the concept that officers employ reasonable suspicion to prevent crimes as a core function of modern police work.
"The challenge for American policing is the same as it is for American government; do no harm," said Bratton.
Bratton also endorsed reforming laws regarding the purchase and possession of guns, and suggested that momentum in favor of gun legislation had been lost, representing an ongoing challenge for police forces.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Detective Jerod Breit opened the morning session with a presentation on the nearly six thousand documented gang members in the St. Louis-area. He pointed out that since January 1, 2012, 23% of all fatal assault cases in the city of St. Louis involved an individual with gang affiliation.
Jonathan Davis, of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and Bridget Flood of the Regional Youth Violence Task Force, described the role of youth employment initiatives and other youth interventions in reducing violent crime.
Former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief and current UMSL Professor Daniel Isom, St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass, and St. Louis Health Department Director Pamela Walker discussed the challenge of treatment and services for released offenders in order to prevent recidivism, particularly the need for mental health services.
The Attorney General's Urban Crime Summit convenes for its fourth and final day tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. at Saint Louis University School of Law. The highlight of tomorrow's morning session is a discussion of an armed offender docket, or a so-called gun court, with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, and a critical analysis of the practice of "stop, question, and frisk" with UMSL Professor Richard Rosenfeld. Noted criminologist Franklin Zimring will end the Summit. Zimring is the author of "The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control."