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Jones makes her case to lead public safety efforts

ST. LOUIS – Solving the city’s crime problems means getting help from everybody, city Treasurer Tishaura Jones said.

“We have to bring everybody to the table, because crime just doesn’t stop at Skinker Boulevard and the Mississippi River; but that means engaging our partners to the west and to the east to come together to the table with active strategies to reduce crime,” said Jones, who is in her second run for mayor.

It’s part of an effort Jones said she would make to promote opportunity for all. 

“Instead of saying no to opportunity, change, innovation and equitable growth for all, let’s try saying yes. We’re not a poor city, we are a cheap city, because we have refused to invest in what will move our city forward,” Jones argued.

“You should be able to succeed here regardless of your skin color, whom you love, how you worship or any identification you hold,” Jones asserted. “I’m going to build a city where each and every one of you feels welcome. And I know that we can do that together.”

Speaking of the problems of crime, Jones cited a number of organizations that do good work. Those include Cure Violence, a program that intervenes in the lives of people at risk of committing a crime. 

“We have to declare gun violence as a public health crisis, which brings everyone to the table, just like we did in this pandemic,” Jones said. 

Jones also said the city must hold accountable everyone who was responsible for the recent violence at the St. Louis Justice Center.

“It’s deplorable the conditions our detainees are currently in in our city jails,” Jones said. She especially spoke out against the fact that locks in the jail didn’t work. The condition is definitely a human rights issue, she said.

“We should be treating any detainees with dignity and respect, whether they are in and out of our jails,” Jones asserted. The city should work with judges and the circuit attorney’s office to make sure detainees get through the court system and don’t have to stay in jail, she said.

Jones said she was committed to closing the city’s controversial Medium Security Institution, also called the Workhouse. But officials may have to work to fix problems in the Justice Center before it can do that, Jones said.

Speaking of calls to “defund” police, she said, “This is about restructuring our public safety budget and shifting the ‘public’ back into public safety.”

For example, Jones said, she’s been promoting since 2017 the placement of social workers in the police department. She’s glad that such a program is underway. She’d like to make sure that the best professional goes out with every call.

Asked what the mayor could do to get St. Louisans vaccinated more quickly, Jones said the city should develop partnerships with organizations that deliver direct care, such as the St. Louis County Health Department. The establishment of convenient vaccination clinics also might help, she said.

Bringing the city and county together might take a number of small steps, she said, rather than talk about issues over a number of years. She also pointed out that she has been endorsed by County Executive Sam Page and County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell.

This is one of four articles for MetroSTL.com about the 2021 candidates for mayor. An aide for City Treasurer Tishaura Jones’ mayoral campaign did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. Therefore, this article is based on Jones’ comments in a virtual primary debate broadcast on Five on Your Side, Nine PBS and St. Louis Public Radio on Tuesday.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com 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 www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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