St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has joined with top police officials to announce plans to hire 40 more officers, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Slay expressed frustration about felony offenders’ getting probation and returning to the streets. The announcement was inspired by last week’s FBI crime-statistics compilation that showed violent crime in St. Louis up 10.3 percent in the first six months of 2006 compared with the same period last year. “No one likes the perception that the city is unsafe, and I don’t believe it is,” said Police Chief Joe Mokwa.
The city will pay for additional officers with $3.2 million expected from an increase in business-license fees that city voters adopted in August. The city now has 1,375 officers. “We will talk to the judges about convicts getting multiple probations,” Slay said. “They have to understand how this affects our neighborhoods.” Presiding St. Louis Circuit Judge John Riley said judges follow the sentencing standards in Missouri law. “I’d love to wave a magic wand, if that would solve the problem,” Riley said. “The law gives us the range of punishments for crime, and if a judge can’t consider the whole range, he shouldn’t be on the job. We have to take each case before us and do the best we can.”