ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Residents in west St. Louis County met with police chiefs from several jurisdictions Wednesday evening during a neighborhood safety briefing.

Around 100 people from Ballwin, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Manchester, and Wildwood showed up to the meeting to hear a wide range of topics involving drugs, mall safety, and crime stats.

“A couple of things we’ve added. We talked about flock license plate readers. Our city invested and now there are five cameras on the mall property and that’s been a big deterrent,” said Des Peres Police Chief Eric Hall.

Residents also heard more about the first responder shortage happening across the region.

“We have the Route 66 Explorer Program between us Ellisville and Manchester. We partnered up together for that,” Ballwin Chief Doug Schaeffler said. “We will take people age 14 through 21 and make them police explorers. Get them involved in law enforcement. They work with us, they do things for us, get them exposed.”

Police chiefs and captains from each municipality said crime rates are down compared to last year. One area where St. Louis County is seeing an increase in crime involves drugs.

“Fiscal year ‘20, we seized 182 pounds of fentanyl; fiscal year ‘21, 398 pounds of fentanyl; last year, 671 pounds of fentanyl; and through June of this year, we’ve already eclipsed that,” DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Colin Dickey said. “We’re already up to 680 pounds and we still have three months of reporting.”

Dickey said a big way the DEA is working to combat the drug problem is educating the public at meetings like the one Wednesday night and teaching kids about the dangers of fentanyl.