EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) – After an eight time convicted felon, Cortez Hibbler, was found guilty earlier this week of robbery at a federal housing project several public officials are speaking out about the horrors at John DeShields in East St. Louis.
“HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) is the landlord to one of the most dangerous housing projects in the area, maybe in the nation,” said Senator Dick Durbin as he adds it’s “inexcusable” and that more can be done to make the living situation for those tenants safer.
Durbin’s views are one in the same with St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. In a candied comment at the bottom of a press release this week Kelly stated, “Per capita the John DeShields housing project is statistically one of the most dangerous areas in the country because of people like Cortez Hibbler. The children there deserve a chance to grow up in safe place free of this kind of violent crime.”
Sen. Durbin says he has personally reached out to local law enforcement and East St. Louis’ Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But more needs to be done. Durbin attributes part of the lack of the Federal Government’s attention due to funding and the national budget crisis. He suggests HUD should increase security in the area. State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly suggested even hiring a private security firm to supplement local law enforcement.
A Special Crime Task force that’s working to reduce crime in the Metro-East is doing a lot of good, but they can’t do it alone. Durbin says cooperation needs to happened with tenants of DeShields. “If they (criminals) are going to be silenced we need evidence to convict these folks that are guilty of violent crimes or we’re not going to make much progress here.”
Kelly says efforts are ongoing between all levels of law enforcement to prosecute the criminals. The main hurdles, the limited law enforcement resources and dealing with what he calls the public’s crisis of faith in institutions like police and the courts.
“We’re trying to do our best to reach out to people living in public housing to get them to trust law enforcement more, to get them to be courageous enough to come forward with information so we can build stronger cases.”
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