ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis City official says taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from the Cure Violence anti-crime program. Alderwoman Pam Boyd (Ward 27) represents parts of Walnut Park, one of the city’s most violent areas.
“I’ve been very vocal about Cure Violence,” she said, adding that the multi-million dollar program hasn’t lived up to its promises.
Cure Violence was supposed to reduce homicides by half. Instead, the number of homicides stayed the same in 2021 and 2022, at around 200.
The Board of Aldermen, then led by Lewis Reed, pushed the plan in 2019, over some reservations by former Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Krewson wanted a go-slow approach to implementing the program and committing funding for it. Reed pushed for the entire program, which the Board of Aldermen adopted, to the tune of $7 million.
Boyd says it has not cut crime in half. “No, it really hasn’t. Not in my community,” she said.
Dr. Fredrick Echols, the city’s former health director and current CEO of Cure Violence Global, addressed Boyd’s criticism.
“It all depends on how involved they are with the program, and so, for individuals who are on the outskirts of the program, and individuals who have no idea what’s happening in the community, that can speculate,” he said. “Sometimes, based on my experience, there’s misinformation provided, and a lot of activity that typically happens within these programs that laypersons, or sometimes even elected officials, aren’t aware of.”
Echols says Cure Violence is working well in the three areas that it’s operating in, between 2019 and 2021. He says in those areas, it’s cut crime at least 46%.
Echols doesn’t know how much crime was cut—if at all—in those areas in 2022. He has yet to receive that data from the city.
At present, St. Louis has not renewed its contract for the program. Skeptics think the city should try something else.