EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KMOX) – Southern Illinois’ newest U.S. congressman is speaking out about crime in East St. Louis, calling it a “complex situation” and “something we’re not going to solve overnight.”
In November, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to solve the crime problem, but Bill Enyart (D- IL) says that’s a lot easier said then done.
“We need to look at education; we need to look at public safety; we have to look at the infrastructure of the cities,” he said. “We have to look at the real estate tax burden here in the city of East St. Louis, it is one of the highest real estate tax burdens.”
Enyart said he met last week with several East St. Louis faith leaders and vowed to work together. But, he admits, many of the problems such as real estate taxes cannot be resolved on the federal level.
“Certainly I intend to work with local leaders as well as state leaders. The governor’s appointed this new Metro East crime task force, I think that’s going to have an impact. So, we’re going to have to solve these problems working together,” Enyart said.
“As Hillary Clinton said years ago, it takes a village to raise a child and that’s what we have to do. We have to raise the children and we have to solve those problems.”
East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks says one thing which would greatly help his city would be an agreement with the federally-operated East St. Louis Housing Authority to put more “boots on the ground.”
“That is the crux of a lot of our criminal activity that takes place in East St. Louis, around the Housing Authority property, and with us not receiving any kind of payment in lieu of newer taxes from the Housing Authority, it is much needed,” he said.
Parks says while there has not been a formal agreement yet with federal officials in the wake of Holder’s November promise, federal agents do help when called upon. He believes more help will be coming when funding for it is found.
“My goodness, we’ve had U.S. Marshals, an ATF unit is here, and it is all so greatly appreciated,” Parks said.