Public safety to go under microscope at meeting

To improve public safety in the city, 23rd Ward Alderman Joe Vaccaro says it’s time to put everything on the table and look at it.

Vaccaro, the newly-appointed head of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee, has called a meeting of that group for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss a wide-ranging list of issues.
In the meeting in the City Hall’s Kennedy Room, the committee will look at such issues is the lack of police officers, the amount of crime, homelessness, local control of police, shootings, ways to recruit more police and other concerns.

“How do we fix these things?” Vaccaro asked. “I want to get the opinion of all the people on that committee. We’re going to take a very proactive appraisal on crime.”

During Friday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, Vaccaro also asked all aldermen to help out.  On homelessness, he was adamant.

“We can’t just continue to have them sleeping over near the hockey rink and the the day we have a hockey game, we have the police come, we run ‘em off and hide ‘em. We have to be providing things for them to do during the day,” Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro suggested that Larry Rice, a controversial advocate for the homeless who’s clashes with City Hall have been well documented, might be one of those speaking.

“I want to have people from the community who actually know more about this than we do,” Vaccaro said, asking the police on the street to come and speak as well.

“I don’t want the chief to come in here and give me what he’s told to tell us. I want to know from the guys on the street,” he said.

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said this will be an important meeting.

“It will help inform us,” Reed said. “The more information we have about things that are going on on the streets and how we can address some of these things legislatively will just everybody.

The Public Safety Committee will meet on Wednesday on the second day of a series of meetings by the aldermanic Ways and Means Committee on the budget for 2019-20.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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