Tishaura Jones, the Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, was unperturbed at the sound of gunfire during her press conference Sunday morning on, ironnically, efforts to reduce violent crime.
Mayor Tishaura Jones was at an event with a mayor visiting from the opposite side of the state, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, when the shots rang out.
The purpose of the event was to discuss how the two cities can learn from each other in advancing their mutual concern about violent crime.
The press conference took place outdoors, in the parking lot of a community center. A police office there as security for the Mayor could be seen putting his hand on his holster. Some of those attending the event headed inside at the sound of shots.
As Mayor Jones, and everyone at that event, heard the gunfire, she said: “Well I hear gunshots in my neighborhood every night. My son and I fall asleep to the lullabies in the distance every night cause I’m the first mayor in over 20 years to be born, raised, and still live in north St. Louis, and it’s unfortunate, yes I heard it, but I didn’t flinch because I guess it’s part of my life now.”
There were 263 reported homicides in St. Louis in 2020. The number for the year so far as 161, so the city is on track for a lower year-end number. A vicious shooting spree in August, that killed both an 8 year old girl and her mother, brought the nation’s attention to this issue in St. Louis in particular.
Mayor Lucas’ city, Kansas City, had a record number of homicides last year: 156. It is at 128 for 2021 to date.
What happened might have overshadowed the content of any other press conference, but it merely accentuated the content of this one. Both mayors discussed larger cities, such as Tampa and Denver, from which they say they have learned on the issue of curbing crime.
Tishaura Jones made the point that St. Louis Metropolitan police now respond to some calls with mental health professionals in tow, because now all problems need or should be met with force. She called it “the fun part about being a mayor … learning what works in other cities, and how we can bring these lessons here and apply them here, because we don’t have time to reinvent the wheel, people are dying everyday.”
Just before the press conference, the two Missouri mayors met with a representative of the U.S. Department of Justcice and community advocates. They discussed the importance of community-based violence intervention programs and the significance of looking to the root causes of crime in order to address public safety.
Mayor Lucas said that he has learned from the approaches taken by St. Louis, from which Kansas City might learn. He spoke specifically of told the press that he sees a lot of positives and approaches in St. Louis that his city might find beneficial. He spoke specifically of “seeing social workers, healthcare workers who were out there de-escalating and dealing with situations in our community, helping relieve some of our police officers.”
Tishaura Jones said that her goal is to get to a point at which the healthcare workers of St. Louis operate independent of the police in certain scenarios. She said she had seen this operating in Denver, Co.
There are important differences between the cities whose mayors participated in this eventful press conference. The Kansas City police have both more people and a larger territory to patrol. Though the St. Louis metro area has a larger population that Kansas City’s, the opposite is the case for the respective cities proper.