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Centene CEO Michael Neidorff praises 'trial' cooperation between St. Louis city, county police departments

The executive's comments came at a conference called Achieving An American Breakthrough, put on by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Verizon
Credit: SLBJ
Centene CEO Michael Neidorff

ST. LOUIS — Centene Corp. CEO Michael Neidorff on Tuesday praised cooperation between the city of St. Louis' and St. Louis County's police departments, done on a "trial basis," which he said he helped coordinate.

The executive's comments came at a conference called Achieving An American Breakthrough, put on by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Verizon. The topic was "achieving public safety and justice for all," and the organizations said it would add to the "learnings of President Obama's 21st Century Policing Task Force and discusses new models for policing in America — including new training and technology innovations."

Neidorff said Centene (NYSE: CNC) was interested in solving crime problems in St. Louis because many of its members — those who receive Medicaid through the Clayton health care giant — live in areas most affected. Officials said the city of St. Louis has seen 216 homicides so far this year, approaching a record rate. Crime is also up in St. Louis County.

Echoing earlier comments, Neidorff also said the company struggles to recruit talent to an area where local television broadcasts report the homicides of children.

Neidorff said he has worked with three or four other local CEOs, including an unspecified executive at car rental giant Enterprise Holdings, to work on lowering violent crime rates.

He mentioned cooperation on policing MetroLink, but also across departments. "We've been working with the police departments on how the city and county, on a trial basis, can work together on the highest crime areas," he said.

As an example, Neidorff mentioned the sharing of "criminal maps."

"I think we're making progress," he said.

A St. Louis County Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Benjamin Granda, said "the collaboration does center on information sharing."

"While we had a joint roll call on October 16th, the dialogue started weeks, if not months, prior to that between the Commanders of the respective areas," Granda said in an email.

Granda said an Oct. 15 homicide in Jennings — in which a man was killed and two children were injured — "increased the urgency on our end." He said the department then dedicated more resources from the special response and tactical operations units in that area.

Granda also said Teneo Group, a consultancy doing a study for both departments, "has encouraged the leadership of the St. Louis County Police Department to find ways to collaborate on a more regular basis." 

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