Durbin Announces New Safety and Security Measures in East St. Louis Federal Housing

City Refuses to Rein in “Club Scene” Despite Record Violent Crime

[EAST ST. LOUIS, IL] – Increased security measures at East St. Louis Housing Authority properties will help protect innocent families, U.S. Dick Durbin (D-IL), an East St. Louis native, said today as he announced the installation of security cameras at six high-rise properties and the hiring of a new security coordinator.


“Residents of East St. Louis suffer from one of the highest violent crime and homicide rates in the country. The people raising their families in this community deserve better. These security cameras will help increase safety by giving law enforcement agencies and a new security coordinator access to areas they were previously unable to monitor. I hope that we can build on this to improve security beyond the federal housing,” Durbin said.


The East St. Louis Housing Authority (ESLHA) has been in receivership by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since 1985. In January, HUD hired a security coordinator to work with local law enforcement officials to monitor the new security cameras and increase security at all ESLHA properties.


Once the cameras are installed, the security coordinator, East St. Louis Police dispatcher, and other law enforcement agencies will have full visual access to the six high-rise apartment buildings. Additional security cameras will be installed at the John DeShields and John Robinson housing developments by the end of the year. The enhancements will also allow for future expansion of the cameras to an internet based system.


Last August, Durbin met with residents of the John DeShields Housing Development and the Working Against Violent Elements (WAVE) Task Force, a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in order to discuss measures that could be taken in order to address violent crime in the area.


The meeting was the culmination of a series of actions Durbin took to work with law enforcement agencies to more aggressively combat the wave of violent crime in East St. Louis, including meetings with FBI Director Robert Mueller and the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Chicago Field Division Andrew Traver. As a result, the FBI provided its local field office with additional training, mentoring, resources, and staffing, and ATF has since increased its focus on investigating violent firearms offenses and gun trafficking in the East St. Louis area in coordination with the WAVE Task Force.


Durbin also called on Mayor Alvin Parks to enforce the 1 a.m. cutoff for liquor store sales, which has been a contributing factor in the growing number of criminal incidents. Durbin also personally appealed to Mayor Parks to take aggressive action to rein in the so-called clubs and liquor stores in town, many of which are open well into the early morning hours.  To date, the mayor has not responded.


Although the population of East St. Louis has decreased in recent years, the violent crime and homicide rates in East St. Louis continue to rank among the nation’s highest. In 2010 alone, there were 31 homicides in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. In 2009, Illinois State Police statistics show that East St. Louis had a population of less than 29,000 but had 3,642 serious reported crimes including 1,348 aggravated assaults, 905 burglaries, 265 robberies and 43 sexual assaults, amounting to a crime rate of 12,658 crimes per 100,000 residents. By comparison, in 2009, Chicago had a crime rate of 5,426 crimes per 100,000 residents and the Illinois average was 3,299 crimes per 100,000 residents.


“If the Mayor will not accept our challenge to end the all-night ‘club scene’ and restrict late-night liquor sales, we must do all we can to protect the families and children in federal housing from this shameful wave of violent crime,” Durbin said.