Murder victim’s family comes out in support of surveillance planes to fight violent crime

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ST. LOUIS – The family of a 26-year-old woman killed in St. Louis City has joined the debate about using aerial surveillance to fight violent crime in the city.

Homicide detectives said they have no suspects or leads in the September 22 murder of Jacqueline Griffin. It’s a problem that continues to baffle city police.

“I didn’t know pain existed like the pain I endured with family and my 9-year-old grandson, who was the son of my daughter, who was slaughtered on the streets of St. Louis,” said William Griffin, Jacqueline’s father.

According to city homicide statistics, there have been 347 murders in the last two years (as of October 15) but only 56 of those cases have been closed.

A company called Persistence Surveillance Systems wants to fly a surveillance plane over the city 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day for free for three years to see if they can help.

The office of Mayor Lyda Krewson released the following statement about the offer:

The mayor’s office received a presentation on the issue earlier this month. The concerns over privacy remain the first issue that must be addressed. Any tool that could potentially be used to help deter and reduce violent crime in the city is worthy of discussion and consideration.

Groups like Privacy Watch St. Louis and the ACLU are against the surveillance, saying it will unfairly target people of color.

Cedric Redmond, a youth ambassador for the city, said the city needs to try something else.

“This just gives us opportunity to figure out what we are up against and how do we attack the problem at the forefront,” he said.

William Griffin said he’s in favor of the planes.

“Whatever tools and mechanisms we can use to help (fight) crime and curtail crime and get education out of it to change hearts of men,” he said. “Yes, I do (support it).”

The surveillance company tried to launch operations in Baltimore but ultimately their offer was not accepted.

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