Police, community making inroads to decrease crime

Monday, February 25, 2019

The same night Cape Girardeau police chief Wes Blair addressed the Cape Girardeau City Council about dropping crime rates, an officer was involved in a shooting where a man is alleged to have shot a woman and refused to drop his weapon after warnings.

It was a grim reminder of the randomness and severity of crime in our city, like many cities across the country.

Violent crime declined by more than 15 percent in Cape Girardeau last year compared to the average previous five years, Blair said Monday night, and reported by Mark Bliss.

In 2018, the city experienced 191 violent crimes, compared to 225 for the five-year average. It wasn’t all good news, however. Crimes involving guns rose by nearly 13 percent, from 62 to 70.

Cape Girardeau saw a decrease of more than 15 percent in all crimes combined, Bliss reported, compared to the previous five-year average. Overall crime was down more than 4 percent from 2017, according to the chief’s presentation.

The overall numbers do show progress, and should be celebrated. The chief announced several initiatives that seem to be working, including Watch on Wheels, body-worn cameras, K-9 unit expansion, development of a crisis-intervention team and the opening of a police substation at Saint Francis Medical Center. The department has plans to open a substation in south Cape Girardeau as well. Police are also working with property owners to help make their properties safer, particularly for landlords who own apartments and rental properties.

It’s clear the police department is evolving, and not afraid to try new things.

There is still more violent crime than what is desired, and the community at-large continues to find ways to address the root of the issues. Meanwhile, the police department is moving and adapting in ways that make sense. A collaborative approach, which includes the police, civic and community leadership — and, yes, even the Purpose Built Communities initiative — is the path to drive down crime even further.

We’ll never eradicate crime completely, but it’s encouraging to see the numbers going down, and a parallel urgency to prevent the issues that lead to crime in the first place.

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