Collinsville Ave. in East St. Louis, Ill. Photo/Paul Sableman

Project Safe Neighborhoods Credited with 42 Percent Reduction in East St. Louis Homicides

The murder capital of the country for three years running witnessed a 42 percent reduction in the number of homicides this year, and law enforcement officials say the change is due to its Project Safe Neighborhoods program. From Dec. 4, 2016, to Dec. 4, 2017, East St. Louis experienced 21 homicides this year versus 36 homicides the previous year, and previously led the nation with highest per capita murder rate for three years in a row.

“I appreciate the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as the support of each of the law enforcement agencies,” East St. Louis Police Chief Jerry Simon said at a Tuesday press conference. “This work is directly responsible for the decrease in the overall crime rate and for the significant reduction in the homicide rate. I look forward to continuing these relationships in the future.”

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The Project Safe Neighborhood program launched in 2001, and the Illinois State Police increased their commitment over the past year, according to the Justice Department. The initiative brings together community leaders and law enforcement to create a coordinated approach to stamping out particular crimes in hotspot areas.

“There is still much to do. But, today, we can be very proud of the progress that has been made,” said Steven D. Weinhoeft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. “The challenges we face are great, but our resolve to meet those challenges is greater. One neighborhood at a time, and one shooter at a time, we are making the community safer. Today, that impact is most dramatically demonstrated by the 42 percent reduction in the homicide rate.”

Multimedia journalist James Cullum is Managing Editor of Homeland Security Today's Federal Pages. He has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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