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With an eye toward St. Louis, Madison County set to launch crime-fighting task force

With an eye toward St. Louis, Madison County set to launch crime-fighting task force

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Tom Haine at Cross-River crime task force launch

Madison County State's Attorney announced the Cross-River Crime Task Force in April. The task force plans to begin law enforcement activity later this month. (Nick Robertson, nrobertson@post-dispatch.com)

EDWARDSVILLE — Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine said Thursday that the Cross-River Crime Task Force, first announced in April, will begin law enforcement efforts this month.

At a news conference, Haine was short on specifics as he offered an outline of task force operations and intentions in the coming months.

Law enforcement officers will use license plate reader technology to find and track suspects and criminals with active warrants in Madison County.

“It is the mission of the Cross-River Crime Task Force to use joint county-wide operations to reduce crime flows into and through Madison County,” the group’s charter says.

“It’s a tragedy that St. Louis, which is a wonderful city, is undergoing a historic crime wave,” Haine said. “Madison County is doing whatever it can to make sure that criminals do not cause problems in Madison County and in order to prevent that crime wave from sweeping into our community.”

It’s not clear where the license plate readers will be placed in the county, such as along Interstates 64 and 255 leading from St. Louis.

The task force has over a dozen members made up of law enforcement leaders from the county. Haine and Madison County Sheriff John Lakin will select a commander for the task force in the coming weeks, Haine said.

He did not go into detail on what specifically the task force will do to deter criminal behavior by those who come into the county, noting that the task force commander will conduct the group’s day-to-day operations. He noted that the task force envisions “monthly, proactive patrols” of the county using the license plate reader technology.

He said the license plate readers are not the same as a red light camera, and will not be used to ticket traffic violations. Privacy is a high priority, he said.

The task force has not contacted law enforcement agencies in Missouri, including St. Louis and St. Louis County police, but Haine is open to collaborating in the future.

“We were elected by Madison County citizens so we can do exactly nothing about crime in St. Louis, sadly. That’s St. Louis’ issue,” Haine said. “All we can do is respond to the needs of the citizens of Madison County. So we’re getting our communities coordinated and able to operate in a proactive way and in an aggressive, fair way. If coordination with St. Louis authorities proves to be helpful in that effort, we envision that occurring in the future.”

When asked about the task force and its focus on criminal behavior by those from Missouri, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office said in a statement only that the “CAO is not involved” in the task force efforts.

Haine said the task force differentiates itself from normal police activity because of its structure.

“It’s different in the sense that it’s unified and it’s proactive across the entire county,” he said. “We hope to learn lessens every month or so when we do these kinds of patrols and get better and better.”

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Metro News Intern

Nick Robertson is a junior at Syracuse University studying journalism and political science. He is a summer intern with the metro news department.

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