ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The results are in.
That 90-day pilot project where Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers worked stretches of Interstates 55 and 70 so St. Louis city officers could concentrate on violent crime ended recently — and it’s getting rave reviews.
“We have received a lot of very positive feedback from the community,” said Mjr. Lance MacLaughlin with the Highway Patrol. “We’ve received a lot of very positive feedback from business owners, and we’ve received very positive feedback from elected officials within the city of St. Louis.”
From July 9 through early October, troopers issued tickets for more than 6,000 felony and misdemeanor charges, made nearly 250 arrests, and recovered dozens of illegal weapons. They also recovered an undisclosed amount of drugs.
But Lt. Ryan Burckhardt with Troop C said it goes beyond just the cold, hard numbers.
“There’s been what we believe is distinct change in the driving behaviors on Interstate 55 and Interstate 70,” he told KMOX. “And even though we focused primarily on those two interstates, there has been a presence as well on Interstates 44 and 64.”
“What our own personnel can tell you is that they’ve seen a difference on the interstate systems from the day they showed up,” he said. “The running gun battles that were occurring regularly on the interstate system … we don’t see those as frequently.”
If it worked so well on a trial run, are there any plans in place to have state troopers patrol St. Louis highways on a regular basis?
MacLaughlin said it’s being looked at, but no final decision has been made.
“You know, 90 days is one thing, but sustainability of this project is very, very different,” he suggested. “What we did in 90 days was attainable, but to do that permanently is going to require a lot of staffing and a lot of help.”
The Highway Patrol did not have final numbers on the cost of providing the service to the city, but MacLaughlin said every one of the 24 volunteer patrol officers working the downtown operation “left an assignment short somewhere else.”
In all, state troopers issued 6,000 tickets for misdemeanor and felony charges, with another 4,000 warnings given out.