Bell visits Green Park aldermen to highlight office’s efforts to curb crime


By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell stopped by the Green Park Board of Aldermen meeting Aug. 16 to highlight some of his office’s prosecution strategies.

Crime and crime-prevention has been a hot topic at Green Park meetings recently, with the board discussing the merits of whether or not to contract a third police officer from St. Louis County full-time or changing current patrol hours to include the weekends. 

Bell told the board his office targets violent offenders aggressively while giving low-level, nonviolent offenders a chance to rehabilitate. Rehabilitation is done through alternatives to incarceration, like treatment programs for addiction.

“When you see someone struggling with addiction and they just need help, you’re converting those individuals to treatment programs,” Bell said. “If they don’t go about it in good faith, we still have the option of charging them.”

He said data shows people who get the help they need are less likely to reoffend than others.

Bell pointed out the uniqueness of St. Louis in that there are 55 police departments, causing communication issues between areas. He said his office has acted as a “clearing house” for the departments, allowing them to match names and faces to crimes across the city.

One issue that has been brought up in previous Green Park meetings has been car-related thefts. Bell said the best way to prevent them is to hide valuables if they are in a car, and to be vigilant when parked and getting in and out of cars.

Bell said criminals are recruiting minors to aid in theft since they are subject to the less strict juvenile courts.

“Our office has no jurisdiction over federal juvenile prosecutors. So when they make a decision not to charge … it’s not our call,” Bell said. “There is a growing sense of frustration that they are not willing to prosecute a lot of these cases.”

He said he has been meeting with prosecutors and judges about the issue, and the solution going forward may include a change to mix the prosecuting departments.