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Nonprofit commits $640K for extra police patrols in downtown St. Louis

The money is used to pay officers $70 an hour to work secondary shifts through a program spearheaded by St. Louis police Chief Robert Tracy

St. Louis Gateway Arch

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

By Dana Rieck
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — A nonprofit that supports local police has committed another $640,000 to fund extra police patrols through the summer in downtown St. Louis.

The move almost doubles the financial commitment by the St. Louis Police Foundation, bringing its funding for extra patrols to $1.5 million since last July.

The money is used to pay officers $70 an hour — about $15 to $25 more per hour than officers’ typical overtime pay — to work secondary shifts through a program spearheaded by St. Louis police Chief Robert Tracy.

The St. Louis Police Foundation, controlled by a group of wealthy St. Louis residents, traditionally provided money for training and equipment for the city police department. But since last summer, it has also given money for extra patrols downtown as the department struggles to fill vacancies, which now represent 27% of the budgeted staff.

The foundation also funds more than a third of Tracy’s $275,000 compensation — a move that increased the chief’s pay in an effort to make the position more appealing.

The extra patrol shifts, which began last July, are aimed at deterring crime and improving public perception of safety downtown, the region’s geographic, business and entertainment hub.

The program was initially expected to run for four months, but it was extended recently through August of this year.

The foundation has provided little information about the program except that the department requested additional money to extend the duration.

“We are simply administering funds for this program through August 2024,” said Michelle Craig, the nonprofit’s president and executive director.

Craig directed further questions to the department. Tracy’s office did not return a request for comment.

The nonprofit initially pledged $860,000 to fund extra patrols downtown, and the department spent about $665,000 of that between July and November of last year, according to documents obtained through a records request. Invoices for the past three months were not immediately available.

Reported crime downtown has decreased significantly since last July, outpacing the rate at which crime has decreased citywide.

Collectively, the city’s Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods have seen a 44% decrease in reported property crime since the extra patrols were put into place in July, compared with the same period one year earlier, according to numbers provided to the FBI by St. Louis police.

Citywide, reported property crimes decreased by about 31% during that time.

Property crimes encompass about 25 different offenses, including theft and robbery.

And aggravated assaults, most of which are non-fatal shootings, have decreased 25% in the downtown area since last July, outpacing the 15% decline citywide.

Homicides are also down 66%, though those numbers are much smaller. There were six homicides in Downtown and Downtown West between July 2022 and February 2023; there were two between July 2023 and February 2024.

The St. Louis Police Foundation was founded in 2007 and has since raised more than $30 million in private donations. In 2021, it had just over $5.6 million in savings, according to tax documents.

Its 25-member board is filled with influential St. Louisans, including Kathy Osborn, president and CEO of the Regional Business Council; Bob O’Loughlin, chairman and CEO of Lodging Hospitality Management, which owns Union Station and Westport Plaza ; and Bill Dewitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals.


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