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Grant will fund community policing effort in north St. Louis County

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program awarded St. Louis County a $1 million grant for community policing.  It will be paid over three years.  The focus will be on the Castle Point neighborhood in north St. Louis County which has had its fair share of crime over the years.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger announced the news Tuesday, alongside Police Chief John Belmar.

“It’s extremely important because it’s a million dollars and what that million dollars would be used for are key components of neighborhood safety,” says Stenger.

County police want to build strong relationships with increased foot and bike patrols, putting new lights and crosswalks in, renovation of community pride park, and monthly events hosted by the department in conjunction with the neighborhood association, including live music.

Tomrita Clark is a lifelong resident of Castle Point. She says, “It is good people in Castle Point. It is hard working people in Castle Point. So, it’s good for us to see community come back up and coming together.”

St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar wants residents in Castle Point to know officers on a first name basis as interaction will go beyond traditional law enforcement.

“The goal for this community is folks that live here, that feel like they can live in comfort and security in this neighborhood,” said Belmar.

He adds that the grant allows officers more time to be in the neighborhood.

“What it’s going to do is improve safety and the community. Then we take a look at Prop P. With additional staffing that includes two man cars. What that does, that buys us capacity to spend time in neighborhoods.”

Both Stenger and Belmar feel the ingredients for success are in Castle Point.

Belmar says, “Three years from now when we look at this and measure the success of  the project we may want to move it into other neighborhood

This innovative approach to policing has had success in other towns. Chief Belmar adds that sometimes you need to try something else because you can’t arrest your way out of situations that have been going for some time.