East St. Louis hires its first police officer in 5 years

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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) _ The police department in East St. Louis, Illinois has hired an officer for the first time in five years.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Jason Boyd was sworn in by Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks last week.

Despite a desire to hire more police officers, the city has been hindered in its quest by budget problems.

Under U.S. Department of Justice guidelines, East St. Louis should have at least 62 sworn police officers. It now has 44.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly has in the past lamented the understaffing of the city’s police department. He said rising crime and an insufficient number of officers in East St. Louis “are proving to be a deadly mix.”

Authorities say one in four homicide cases have been solved in East St. Louis since 2010.