ST. LOUIS (AP/KMOX) – Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens faces hecklers on a hot parking lot as he unveils his crime-fighting plan for St. Louis.
Greitens came to talk about adding Missouri State Highway Patrol officer to cover the highways in St. Louis, a special police unit to shut down drug markets, and new helicopter assets to go after felons.
Interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole says just getting some help on the highways will help a lot.
“We’ve had, I guess over the past year, I think it was four homicides on Highway 55 and at least one on Highway 70,” O’Toole says. “I think when you look at crime, you have to consider all of the crimes.”
O’Toole says crimes also include traffic violations and DWI’s.
“It definitely will boost morale. Our officers know they are going from call to call,” O’Toole says. “And they know there’s work to be done on the highways and we haven’t had adequate patrols on the highways in some time.”
He adds they appreciate the highway patrol coming in and lending a hand.
But the hecklers were upset with his support of the state minimum wage and nothing higher in the city. And then Alderman Jeffrey Boyd confronted the governor during the press gaggle afterwards.
“My biggest issue is the fact that we have a proliferation of guns in our neighborhood; we need tougher gun control laws,” Boyd said. “The fact that the state of Missouri makes it allowable for almost anybody to carry a gun is unacceptable. How can you help us if you don’t stop some of these guns from getting out on the street in the beginning?”
“Alderman, first of all, I appreciate your passion, and I’m excited to work with you and elected officials all over the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri to address the problems that we have,” Greitens replied.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson says she welcomes Greitens’ help, saying we don’t have a crime problem in St. Louis — we have a crime crisis.
Protesters in St. Louis have used a news conference setting to express their anger at Greitens for his decision to allow a law to take effect next month that returns the city’s minimum wage back to the state minimum.
The Republican spoke Monday at an outdoor news conference to announce a plan to reduce violent crime in the city he called the most dangerous in the United States. Among other things, the plan calls for a special operations unit of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to target interstate highways in St. Louis in an effort to find violent criminals.
But Greitens’ message was often drowned out by about two dozen protesters, many holding signs in support of the $10 minimum wage approved by aldermen in 2015. The law took effect in May.
State lawmakers this year passed a measure prohibiting local minimum wages and nullifying any already in effect. The St. Louis minimum reverts to $7.70 effective Aug. 28.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is announcing a plan aimed at reducing violence in St. Louis, calling the city “the most dangerous in the United States.”
The plan announced Monday calls for the Missouri State Highway Patrol to help patrol interstate highways in the city, targeting violent felons and saturating areas of high crime. The proposal also calls for the state Department of Corrections to remove what the governor says is 450 criminals from the streets.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety will work with FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency as part of the project.
St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann was also on hand for the Governor’s announcement. He says the city’s high crime rate scares away companies from the entire region.
“This is something that we can’t simply leave to the city of St. Louis,” Ehlmann says. “Try as they might. If they don’t succeed it’s not going to just hurt the city, it’s going to hurt the county…it’s going to hurt all the surrounding counties.”
Ehlmann says already he’s receiving questions from companies thinking of moving to St. Charles from outside the area asking, “How close are you to downtown?”
Ehlmann is offering to provide St. Louis Police with help, including having his police cover the highways in St. Charles County so more Highway Patrol officers are free to serve in the city.
St. Louis ranks high nationally in the number of homicides and other violent crimes. Greitens has a home in St. Louis and his wife was robbed at gunpoint in December.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)