ST. LOUIS — The “Cure Violence” crisis intervention program planned by city leaders should be just one of a wide range of approaches to try to stem violent crime, a city Mental Health Board official told aldermen Tuesday.
“I don’t think that one program by itself will address the issues that we have in the city,” said Serena Muhammad, director of strategic initiatives for the tax-supported mental health agency.
“You’ll be setting Cure Violence up and ourselves up for failure if you put ... all of our eggs in one basket. You really need to be as comprehensive as possible.”
Muhammad, answering a question at a meeting of the aldermanic Public Safety Committee, said Cure Violence deals with people believed to be engaging in violence and to intervene to stop new incidents before they occur.
Other programs should deal with prevention, she said, such as improving economic opportunity and education in lower-income areas and building better relations between police and neighborhood residents.
Muhammad said the mental health board since last year has provided staffing for the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission.
The commission was initiated in 2016 by the United Way and Washington University to address violent crime in the city and St. Louis County.
The commission includes representatives from various public and private social service, health care and education providers, religious groups, law enforcement and other areas of expertise.
Among other things, the commission advises neighborhood groups, analyzes data on what has worked here in the past and has worked with other agencies to help crime victims and increase “safe spaces” for children.
Muhammad and the commission coordinator, Jessica Meyers, briefed the aldermanic panel about the commission’s work and a 2017 federal report on how to deal with violent crime here.
The Board of Aldermen and the city’s top fiscal body, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, voted in June to provide $500,000 to a violence prevention program such as Cure Violence in which residents in high-crime areas are trained in crisis intervention.
Last week Aldermanic President Lewis Reed introduced an ordinance to add $8 million to the amount available. That’s expected to be discussed Wednesday by the estimate board.