The East St. Louis Police Department has hired its first new officer in more than five years.
Probationary patrolman Jason Boyd was sworn in by Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks on April 10.
The department has been working to get more officers for a while, but was not previously able to because of budget problems. The city simply couldn't afford to hire more officers.
East St. Louis, which had 35 homicides in 2017, should have at least 62 sworn police officers, according to a U.S. Department of Justice guideline. It now has 44.
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“The East St. Louis Police Department is overwhelmed and there aren’t enough officers from the state or the Sheriff’s Department to fill that gap,” St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said in October 2017. “The rising crime in St. Louis and an insufficient number of officers in East St. Louis are proving to be a deadly mix.”
It's statistically proven that the more that police are seen around the city, the more crime is deterred. Along with that, having more officers gives more leeway to investigate crimes, which would lead to more cases being solved. Only one in four homicide cases have been solved in East St. Louis since 2010.