Mayor Tishaura O. Jones Highlights City’s Efforts to Retain $5.5 Million to Protect First Responders, Improve 911 System Through Negotiations with Attorney General Eric Schmitt
Jones et al outlined negotiations with the Attorney General office over a settlement agreement related to the wrongful conviction case of George Allen
Mayor Tishaura O. Jones, joined by St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief John Hayden and City Counselor Sheena Hamilton, outlined ongoing negotiations with Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office over a settlement agreement related to the case of George Allen, a Black man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and incarcerated in the early 1980’s. The Attorney General’s office extended an offer that the City of St. Louis would not have to reimburse the State of Missouri $5.5 million from the 2018 settlement if the City agreed to allocate the funds for police personnel this fiscal year.
Last week, the City responded with a fair offer to dedicate those resources where they’re most needed: a hiring incentive for the grossly understaffed 911 dispatch center, which the mayor toured earlier in August; mental health support for first responders, a priority for state leaders; and additional incentives for first responders to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Together, these priorities illustrate the administration’s commitment to reimagining public safety by utilizing a public health lens and to fixing the city’s long-neglected 911 system.
“These solutions not only fall clearly within the parameters of the Attorney General’s office’s request, they also help improve our public safety infrastructure,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “I appreciate the Attorney General’s office for offering St. Louis the opportunity to retain these funds, which we can use to protect residents from COVID-19, staff up our 911 center, and support our first responders’ health care needs. I’m ready to work with anyone—across party lines—to get the resources we need to improve services and make our city safer for everyone.”
While the City seeks to overhaul its 911 system by modernizing technology and consolidating dispatch centers, a hiring incentive similar to the successful, ongoing program offered through the Refuse division could help resolve the critical staffing shortage of nearly 30 dispatchers, which has been the biggest barrier to bringing response times back to national standards. More than 75% of City employees have been vaccinated, though additional incentives could help boost those rates further to continue to protect employees and the public they serve from illness and hospitalization resulting from transmission of COVID-19.