Shaw neighborhood comes together to help reduce crime around church

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ST. LOUIS - Some south city residents made small improvements in their community with the hope their efforts will have a big impact on reducing crime.

Members of the Shaw Neighborhood Ownership Model (NOM) recognized the Compton Heights Baptist Church parking lot on Castleman Avenue near Grand Ave. - with poor lighting and unrestricted access - was a target for crime. Crimes include a shooting, a carjacking and a gun found, residents said, adding they often saw other suspicious activity in the parking lot as well.

Neighbors reached out to church leaders to ask what they could do to help. Associate Pastor William Wyatt said they were grateful for the offer because they too were concerned about the illegal activity near the 113-year-old church.

"Our parking lot was dark," said Wyatt. "We were very concerned about the lighting. I had reported that several times."

Wyatt said the church is run by an all-volunteer staff and hosts several weekly events like bible studies for women and children. He was concerned for the safety of the congregation.

Church leaders worked with the Shaw NOM to identify ways to improve the parking lot. Ameren Missouri installed new lighting, and the church paid to replace the broken parking lot barrier.

The church invested about $700 to replace the bollards which had been bent, broken and removed over the years. Shaw NOM members gathered the materials from across the country and donated their labor to install the new posts.

The new chain will be locked when the church is closed to keep uninvited visitors out. Keys were delivered to the church Sunday (April 28).

"It was great to see the reaction of the congregation once the project was completed," said Kim McGrath with the Shaw NOM.

The Shaw NOM focuses on crime prevention and awareness. President Dan Powell said they try to be proactive and work together to make the neighborhood safer.

"Some of these incidents are just crimes of opportunity, and if we can take some of that opportunity away, let's do it,” said Powell.

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