ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – From police officers to prosecutors and elected officials to juvenile court officers, they gathered in south St. Louis County to find solutions on Friday.
Teen crime often begins with a stolen car, making the juvenile crime issue more regional than ever.
“They’ll steal a car in St. Louis City, and the next thing you know, they’ve committed a crime in St. Louis County or vice versa,” said Chief Kenneth Gregory for the St. Louis County Police Department.
Gregory was joined on the panel Friday by St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.
“Our office can’t prosecute them… legally we cannot,” Bell said.
He said it needs to change and encouraged action from legislatures.
A juvenile court representative, also on the panel, said at the meeting that the public needs to measure incarceration versus treatment and what will bring the best long-term results.
“We can do two things at once. We can address those issues, but we have a duty to hold people accountable,” Bell said. “We have a duty to keep our residents safe.”
“We have to find the solution,” said Missouri State Representative Steve Butz. “The fact that they had that conversation this morning, I was glad just to witness it, and it gave me hope for the city that things could get better.”
Butz said it was reinvigorating to hear of other possible solutions. He said he was frustrated by the failure of a bill he supported that would’ve put an age limit on who can carry a loaded gun. He said the bill lacked support in the legislature.
“It’s crazy, I think most people would say unaccompanied minors that should not be able to walk around a public street with guns,” Butz said.
Bell said discussion and debate are crucial to finding new solutions.
“We need more of these kind of conversations with stakeholders at the table,” he said.
The meeting was organized by the St. Louis County Police Business Association, which raises money for police and thought it was also important to find solutions to juvenile crime.
Monty Monteleone of the association said, “We got together and said we need to do something for the region,” said Monty Monteleone, a member of the St. Louis County Police Business Association.
Friday’s meeting was similar to one FOX 2 reported last October in north St. Louis County. The juvenile courts have been meeting with stakeholders for months now to help work through differences and find ways to improve the fight against juvenile crime.