EAST ST. LOUIS — Eight new security guards will be hired to patrol public housing complexes across the city as part of an effort to increase safety for residents, officials said Friday.
Part of a new $486,000 federal grant will be used to pay for two of the officers and the East St. Louis Housing Authority will pay for six of the guards.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, visited the John DeShields housing complex Friday to publicize the Housing and Urban Development grant.
Durbin said he went to the complex a year ago and he wanted to tell the residents he is keeping his promise to fight violent crime in East St. Louis, where he previously lived.
"Individuals who cause trouble for these families and elderly people are not welcome," Durbin said.
In February, Durbin said security cameras, fences and new lights would be added to East St. Louis public housing complexes in an effort to fight crime. He announced at that time that $400,000 in federal money would be used to start the project.
One of the new fences is being built at John DeShields.
"Since we had the fencing, a lot of traffic and drug dealing has stopped," said Lillie Dixon, who lives in the John DeShields complex. "Kids can play in the parking lot."
Elizabeth Tolliver, executive director of the East St. Louis Housing Authority, said funding for six of the security guards will be made possible because security cameras will be installed in some high-rise buildings and guards who had been stationed there will be able to move out to other complexes.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 239-2503.