This article is 11 years old. It was published on June 22, 2011.
Mayor Francis Slay today announced that he has placed his operations director, Sam Dotson, in charge of implementing recommendations made by IBM to help better coordinate the City’s law enforcement entities to reduce crime. The mayor also announced he has begun a search to hire a chief performance officer, a key recommendation in the IBM Smarter Cities Report, which the mayor made public today.
“City taxpayers spend a quarter of a billion dollars per year on law enforcement,” Slay said. “We have one of the bigger police departments in the country. We have some of the most skilled and dedicated law enforcement professionals in the country. But, we will get more for our money when the different agencies work much more closely together and share more information to target dangerous, career criminals.”
The City of St. Louis competed for and won an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. It is the first of 100 cities worldwide that IBM plans to show how to use technology and data to solve specific problems. Over a three-week period earlier this year, a team of six IBM executives addressed a challenge put to them by the mayor: Determine how independent law enforcement agencies can better share information to rid neighborhoods of high-risk criminals.
"IBM was asked to study St. Louis' public safety challenges -- problems that are not uncommon in many large, urban environments," said James Lingerfelt, a technical specialist with IBM's Global Technology Services and a member of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge team with a law enforcement background. "The City demonstrated an exceptional commitment to transparency, self improvement, collaboration and innovation during the process. We were provided insight into how the City's agencies currently operate, and the constraints they are under. As IBM volunteers seeking to apply our expertise, we were privileged to provide feedback to a progressive administration that wants to make a positive impact on the quality of life of its citizens."
All of the law enforcement agencies fully cooperated with IBM. The IBM team found that the law enforcement agencies in St. Louis – the Police Department, Circuit Attorney, Courts, Probation and Parole, and City Hall – are independent of one another and operate in separate silos. The Police Department and Board of Probation and Parole are state agencies. The Circuit Attorney and Court Clerk are separately elected officials accountable to the voters, not the Office of the Mayor. Judges are appointed by the governor. The IBM executives concluded that divided government and a lack of information sharing put high-risk offenders back on the streets, while incarcerating offenders who don’t need to be in prison or jail.
The 61-page IBM report made scores of recommendations for the Mayor’s Office, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the Circuit Attorney, Courts, and the state Probation and Parole office.
Among the recommendations:
- The Mayor should fill the position of Chief Operating Officer (which he did) and appoint a Chief Performance Officer (which he is doing) to drive accountability and coordinate law enforcement.
- The Police Department should establish a performance-based appraisal system for its officers.
- The Circuit Attorney should create an offender coversheet to identify the worst offenders, and should support broader information sharing.
- The Circuit Courts should replace paper-based systems with digital systems.
- State Probation and Parole should create scorecards to measure outcomes.
One of the most important recommendations involves dangerous offenders. The report suggests the Police Department and Circuit Attorney coordinate information on dangerous offenders, and share it with judges when they are making decisions about bonds and sentences. The idea is to make sure judges know who is potentially dangerous to a neighborhood and who is not. Since the report was released, Judge Jack Garvey and Judge Barbara Peebles have started increasing bonds for defendants accused of gun crimes in order to keep the most dangerous offenders off of the streets.
“We have very capable people fighting crime in St. Louis,” Slay said. “But, more information sharing, with measurable goals, outcomes, and accountability will improve law enforcement. I want to thank IBM for this very thoughtful—and very useful—blueprint for improvement.”