ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – Crime fighters without badges were recognized for their leadership by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office on Thursday night.
A courtroom inside the Carnahan building was filled with residents from neighborhoods from across St. Louis City.
They participate in the Neighborhood Ownership Model. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce says the program started in the Lafayette Square neighborhood in 2011 and has spread throughout the city.
Citizens show up for court dates, they call police and they inspire neighbors to get involved.
"This is a very strong deterrent to the 'don`t snitch' culture," said Joyce. "This is neighbors standing up and saying, hey, we are not going to tolerate crime in our neighborhood."
Bevo Mill resident April Wilkerson received top honors for her crime fighting efforts. She was a burglary victim who then mobilized neighbors to watch out for crime.
"It's really nice to be able to walk down my front porch and see somebody going by and actually knowing who they are," said Wilkerson.
West End resident Mike Atkinson has helped chase out criminals from his neighborhood.
"You just have to take charge," said Atkinson. "We`ve run a bunch of drug dealers out of the neighborhood and gotten a lot of abandoned buildings either boarded up or torn down."
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has neighborhood liaison officers to help foster neighborhood involvement. That's Officer Jerod Breit's role in city's 9th district. He said residents hold crime fighting powers in more ways than one.
"Going to court, writing impact statements and patrolling their own neighborhood," said Breit. "It's a great example of engaging your neighbor."
"When citizens support each other when they're victims of crime, we're able to do our job that much more effectively," said Joyce. "It makes a huge difference."
For more information on the Neighborhood Ownership Model contact the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office at (314) 622-4941.