North County Town Hall Focuses on Government Resources | Local News
From policing to public works, a theme began to emerge Wednesday night at a North County town hall: personnel and funding are major issues when it comes to getting things done.
Councilor Shalonda Webb, District 4, began the evening by emphasizing the need for collaboration between the various departments in St. Louis County. District 4 encompasses Florissant north to Pelican Island and east to the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
In her introduction, she indicated that she is in partnership with the police department and that she believes the community can see a major transformation in public safety by working together.
“We must take ownership of our affairs and we must work together, in collaboration, to find a solution,” she said, stressing that the burden was not only on law enforcement.
Police service issues were the focus of the presentation portion of the two-hour event, while questions submitted focused more on traffic issues, abandoned buildings and other issues.
Captain Tim Cunningham, Commander of the North County Precinct, gave a presentation on the latest crime statistics, the precinct’s plan to move from 10-hour officer shifts to 12-hour shifts and what police are doing to tackle violent crime and the widespread use of firearms.
Acting Police Chief Lt. Col. Kenneth Gregory took over in August when Mary Barton has resigned after 16 months of controversy and conflict. He spoke briefly at the town hall event and answered a few questions later that night.
“I have a lot of personal interests in North County. I have lived in North County since 1974, ”said Gregory. “… I hear gunshots at night. It concerns me as much as you.
Cunningham said the two most common concerns he has heard from the community are speed and the lack of police presence in the housing estates, something he hopes to curb with longer shifts that would give officers longer. time to be present in otherwise neglected areas.
Other concerns included unlicensed vehicles, commercial vehicles in neighborhoods, illegal parking, abandoned vehicles, and unlicensed businesses in restricted areas.
Throughout the presentation, the Captain made it clear that these law enforcement issues are a daunting task to resolve with the resources they currently have.
“Staffing, recruiting and retention is a deep conversation right now,” Cunningham said.
Carl Becker, head of the St. Louis County human resources division, spoke of the government’s efforts to fill all 75 vacant officer positions in the department, a number expected to rise to around 100 by the start of the year. next due to factors such as expected retirements. The St. Louis County Police Department funded 972 sworn officer positions.
“So as you can see from these numbers, we have quite a challenge ahead of us when it comes to recruiting,” Becker said.
He said that before recruiting, the department should focus on retaining the officers it has.
“One way to do this is through compensation, and I’m very happy to say that we’ve had great support from City Councilor Webb and the rest of County Council when it comes to compensation,” said Becker.
He said the department should also continue to treat its employees well and mentioned the new agent welfare unit created by the agency to help them cope with workplace trauma.
“Like I said, it’s a great police service,” Becker said. “… They’re not just great officers. They are great people and I am proud to be able to work with them and represent the police service.