A joint announcement was made today to unveil “Mission SAVE,” a new initiative to reduce violence in the St. Louis area. The word “Mission” denotes our long-term commitment. The word “SAVE” stands for “Strike Against Violence Early.”
This initiative is an unprecedented collaboration between the following federal and local law enforcement agencies:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri
- St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
- St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office
- St. Louis County Police Department
- St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office
The collaboration leverages the unique expertise of each of the agencies. By collaborating together, we can achieve results that we cannot attain as effectively if we were doing it separately.
The collaboration amongst law enforcement will focus on getting the most violent offenders off the streets. The most violent ones will have the full, focused attention of law enforcement at all levels. We’re using all available tools and cases, including drug and weapons charges, to pursue the most violent offenders who ask for our attention through their conduct. At the same time, we’re conducting investigations with the goal of dismantling the source of the illegal drugs and guns.
The collaboration between the three prosecutors opens up the opportunity to pick the one in the best position to deliver the appropriate justice for the crime committed.
Since Mission SAVE was launched late last December, the task force has made 79 arrests, 16 of which are considered the most violent offenders. We’ve also taken 108 illegal firearms off the streets. The total drugs seized include:
- 34 kilograms of methamphetamine
- 31 kilograms of cocaine
- Two kilograms of heroin
“Even with this unprecedented collaboration amongst federal and local law enforcement, we know arrests are not enough. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” said William P. Woods, Special Agent in Charge, FBI St. Louis Division. “We want offenders to understand that law enforcement and the community care about them. We do not want them to end up in jail or in a coffin.” That’s why the second component of “Mission SAVE” is just as vital. We’re also collaborating between law enforcement and the community. We’re engaging local governments, non-profits, community service providers, universities, and community leaders to offer “viable alternatives” to violence. We will directly communicate these alternatives to the offenders so they know that violence is not the only option.
Mission SAVE is a new initiative for St. Louis, but other cities have already adopted this type of collaboration on focused deterrence and have reduced violence in their cities. For example, Kansas City initiated the NOVA Project in 2013. Here are the homicide statistics for the Kansas City area before and after the start of the NOVA Project:
- 2014—78 (30 percent drop after NOVA Project started in 2013)
- 2015—37 (as of July 24, 2015)
Included below are other cities that also reduced violence using the strategy of focused deterrence (statistics are from National Network of Safe Cities):
- In Stockton, California, gun homicides went down by 42 percent from 1997-2002
- In Boston, youth homicide went down by 63 percent
- In Cincinnati, gang-related homicide saw a 41 percent drop
- Indianapolis saw a 34 percent reduction in homicides