Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Downtown St. Louis Inc. Adding Cops, Eliminating 'Downtown Guide' Program

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 4:40 PM

click to enlarge The western edge of downtown St. Louis features many beautiful old buildings converted to lofts. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/PAUL SABLEMAN
  • The western edge of downtown St. Louis features many beautiful old buildings converted to lofts.
With concerns about crime escalating, Downtown St. Louis Inc. has announced it will shift funds from its "Downtown Guide" program to uniformed police officers and security guards, effectively immediately.

The funding changes will kill the Downtown Guide program, which has provided escorts and assistance downtown for two decades, the organization announced in a press release.

The additional security will begin tomorrow, with eight off-duty St. Louis police officers providing a presence from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., according to the news release. By summer, the organization plans to outsource half the positions to a private company that will bring four "licensed and uniformed security patrol staff" to work in tandem with four cops.

Eleven Downtown Guides will be laid off immediately, the organization said.

Downtown St. Louis Inc. receives its funding from a Community Improvement District; downtown property owners voluntarily kick in $3.4 million annually in extra assessments. That money currently funds downtown bike patrols, as well as additional officers on Washington Avenue on the weekends in the summer, among others.

Some high-profile incidents downtown recently have led to a perception that crime is a problem. (A wave of overdoses on city streets linked to synthetic drugs hasn't helped.) And the law firm Brown & Crouppen seized headlines last month by saying it may leave downtown after four decades.

“It is crime pushing us out — and nothing else,” Andy Crouppen told the Post-Dispatch.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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