EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (KTVI)-- Illinois state troopers will soon be patrolling full time on the streets of East St. Louis. The ISP and the St. Clair County State’s attorney both confirm that plans are in the works to put units in place. No official time frame has been announced though sources say operations are likely to begin in the spring.
Officials are quick to point out this is not a takeover of the East St. Louis department, just a bolstering of resources that is desperately needed.
“We’ve got to be honest here,” St. Clair State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Wednesday. “There’s not gonna be a takeover. There is no giant set of resources out there that are gonna save the day. There’s no silver bullet for these problems.”
The problems are well documented. It’s a battle with violent crime that cops in East St. Louis and surrounding communities have been fighting, and to some degree losing, for a long time. Now, as those departments are trying to get back on their feet, the extra help is on its way.
“We need to give them some space to be able to deal with the issues of violent crime, give them some assistance, and so the mayor and the other elected officials have been asking for help from Springfield and it looks like that help is coming,” Kelly said.
The numbers and time frame have yet to be determined, but ISP officials say the wheels of the operation are in motion.
“We’re still in the planning stages as far as manpower goes,” Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr. said. “The main objective for Illinois State Police involvement in this operation would be to deter crime in the city of East St. Louis and create a greater police presence for the community.”
“Elated” was the first word East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks used upon hearing the news from Fox 2. He says he’s been asking for the help for months, and getting it will make an immediate difference.
“It’s still a challenge. You know that you need more visibility and give citizens more confidence that if something is wrong somebody is going to be there to protect them,” Parks said.
Kelly says providing that protection is the next step.
“We’re talking about hot spot policing. But there are a certain group of people that are in the community that we know are high risk. They’re likely to shoot or be shot and drive up those homicide numbersand if the Illinois State Police can provide these local departments with some assistance, that’s gonna be helpful. Whether it’s one guy or a hundred guys, we’ll take what we can get.”
Parks insisted there would be no animosity from East St. Louis officers toward the outsiders. That seemed to be confirmed by one beat cop we spoke to Wednesday. When told of the news, the reaction came in one word: “Awesome.”