Regional Save Lives Now plan aims to curb violent crimes within 3 years

Kansas City and Baltimore, two cities 5 On Your Side traveled to last year, are now serving as a catalyst for change here in St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS — A new group of leaders and people from various communities will join forces Thursday afternoon to put a drastic dent in homicides from St. Louis city to the county and even in St. Clair County. They’re looking at trends from other cities to see what can work here.

Last year, 5 On Your Side traveled across the country, searching for solutions in Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans and Baltimore. The new group that will meet Thursday plans to explore tactics they’ve seen in two of those cities to turn things around in the St. Louis region.

When crime strikes, it’s never welcomed.

“We want to see crime diminish,” said Cynthia Danley of Safe Connections.

Her group works to prevent domestic violence and to steer young people away from it. 

She’s reacting to a regional initiative called Save Lives Now. Under the leadership of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, a group of community leaders and neighbors want to reduce shootings and homicides by 20% in three years.

“I think it’s going to take all of us working together to accomplish that goal,” Danley said, while calling the goal realistic.

Kansas City and Baltimore, two cities 5 On Your Side traveled to last year, are now serving as a catalyst for change here. Local leaders are looking at those cities, as well as Chicago and Philadelphia, to see what worked to deter criminals using what’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and street outreach tactics.

“Every part of our region is challenged with crime. One thing that everyone can agree on is that they do not want crime in their community.

Those who commit crimes are not thinking about that invisible boundary they may be crossing. While the boundaries officially define our communities, they cannot define our response to crime,” Page said in a statement.

“Most violent crime is committed by a small percentage of the population,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones in a statement. “The Save Lives Now! initiative recognizes this reality and engages these individuals with the goal of diverting them through focused deterrence, teaching them there’s a different way through cognitive behavioral therapy and using credible messengers who can earn their trust.” 

Danley wants to make sure the group’s ideas lead to action.

“It’s going to be incumbent upon those who are brought to the table to have a plan for implementation and actually follow through with it…See what works (and) what doesn’t, but we can’t give up because this is our community,” she said.

The group will consist of police officers, lawmakers, and everyday people. To learn more about the initiative, go here.