ST. LOUIS – Former St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols is taking over as the CEO of Cure Violence Global. Taxpayers in St. Louis City are spending millions of dollars on the program that’s supposed to curb violence.

Echols, who was forced out of that job for unspecified reasons, says the pent-up frustration brought on by the COVID crisis hit already beleaguered communities the hardest, making the despondent feel even more hopeless and more likely to turn to crime.

Dr. Echols says St. Louis is spending about $7 million on the Cure Violence areas in the city. They are 10-block-by-10-block spaces called “containment areas.”

Cure Violence sends out people to tamp down retaliation by talking to both sides of a conflict in order to cut down violence.

There are currently three containment areas in the city, which cost approximately $750,000 per area. Echols says for the city to get a real handle on crime, they would need to set up 10 containment areas. He says the cost could run upwards of $10 million.

He says the contribution is reduced death, hospitalization, and poverty. He says that makes the costs well worth it.

St. Louis City had a drop in crime from 2020 to 2021. City officials gave Cure Violence some of the credit for that.