The City of Ferguson first posted an announcement for the “Mayors & Chiefs Crime Prevention Summit” on June 20th featuring Ferguson Police Chief Troy Doyle, Mayor Ella Jones, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell. After at least one resident called to RSVP to attend and was told it was for mayors and chiefs only the Facebook post was changed to note “**This Meeting Is Not Open To The Public**.” Complaints were made to Interim City Manager John Hampton and publicly noted on Facebook about the use of the council chambers for a “private” meeting for an event with political overtones as Bell had just announced his candidacy for US Senate. The announcement was later quietly changed on the city’s Facebook page as “**Open To The Public**.” All mayors and police chiefs of North County were said to have been invited. Although no notice of the summit was sent out to the city’s media contacts, three local news crews came to cover the event.
Elected officials in attendance were: Gary Johnson, Mayor of Jennings; Michele Deshay, Mayor of Molines Acres; James McGee, Mayor of Vinita Park; Dinah Tatman, Mayor of Bellefontaine Neighbors; Sharon Pace, Mayor of Northwoods; and Rita Heard Days, St. Louis County Council.
Police departments represented included: North County Police Cooperative (Chief John Buchannan, Asst. Chief Ron Martin, and Capt. Michael Lang), Moline Acres (Lt. David Bobo), Berkeley (Chief Art Jackson), Bellefontaine Neighbors (Chief Jeremy Ihler)
The first 25 minutes of the program had Ferguson Police Chief Troy Doyle and St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell give remarks that included how they came to pursue their careers and how their early careers started. Both also spoke on the value of cooperation and communication.
The floor was then opened to questions for the next 35 minutes. Use the link below to hear an audio recording of the full meeting.
Nick Kasoff asked about whether there was any action on reforming the juvenile point system, which has made police reluctant to arrest juveniles and prosecution difficult. Bell responded that juveniles are only dealt with in juvenile courts unless they are certified. He said that the Chiefs Advisory Committee has met with local legislators to look at reforms. Bell complained that at the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys “The only oxygen in the room was about the circuit attorney’s office.” Bell says this must be addressed in the state legislature.
The next question focused on employment and training programs as a way to prevent crime, such as training and apprenticeship programs.
Erica Brooks asked what kind of relationships are there with city councils, police, fire, etc. with families, students, school boards and communities? Bell said a lot of entities are invested in community outreach and talked about how the North County Police Cooperative pulled people over to give them gift cards.
Chief Buchannan of North County Coop said what really concerns him are the gun laws. He wants to see everyone go to Jeff City and demand change.
Mental health issues were also raised.
Ferguson Council Member Linda Lipka spoke about how DARE programs have been lost in local departments. She would like to see a revamped DARE program that connects to the interests of kids, such as the dances she used to DJ at for youth in which police officers and danced and engaged with the kids.
Chief Doyle addressed the need for more enforcement and mentioned his new program, the HERO program for rewarding people who refer new police officers to Ferguson.