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St. Louis comptroller unveils plan to increase police officers' pay, curb crime

"We all want to see a reduction in crime in the city," said Comptroller Darlene Green.

ST. LOUIS — "Perhaps, it's one of the most urgent needs we have to do today in St. Louis to address the crime problem," said St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green.

In just a matter of minutes, Green announced her Public Safety Initiative during Wednesday's Board of Estimate and Apportionment monthly meeting.

"I want to introduce and outline a conceptual plan that will offer some meaningful steps," said Green.

Her plan includes putting more money in the pockets of city police officers.

It calls for "wages competitive with other police departments around the region."

Currently, a St. Louis police officer with one year of experience makes more than $49,000 a year.

"Our police need to have the best pay that is available that we can afford to give them and keep our officers here," said acting Aldermanic President Joe Vollmer, who also sits on the Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

The comptroller also wants to see new incentives for becoming a St. Louis police officer such as "tax breaks and down payment assistance on new homes."

Green has been the city's comptroller for nearly 27 years.

Her safety effort also includes a "Cop On the Block" initiative.

The goal:  make police officers more visible in every neighborhood in an effort to curb crime.

"It's not a new concept, but it gives a signal that we've got an additional tool for addressing the crime problem in the city," added Green.

"I really would like to see it happen sooner than later," said downtown resident Jonice Langford.

Langford likes the idea of paying police more.

"Just keeping neighbors safe, that's going to have to entitle a pay increase for these police officers. They're putting their lives in danger," said Langford.

David Wigger also lives downtown.

He says Green's proposed Cop On the Block plan could really benefit neighbors.

"When the police officers are walking the block, when they're present, crime is less," said Wigger.

Green said she developed the plan after talking to police officers, the mayor and the city's public safety director.

Her plan still has a long way to go before it's finally voted on by the city.

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