St. Louis Planning “Stop and Search”, “Safety Checks” ACLU: Considers Plan Unconstitutional

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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis police officers may soon want to search your car.

Police and city development leaders are working on another new plan to help prevent crime in downtown St. Louis. The plan includes something called ‘coordinated safety checks.’

A spokesperson for the St. Louis metropolitan police department confirmed the plan is in the development stages, but said it’s too early to comment on specific details.

Missy Kelley, the chief operating officer of Downtown STL, Inc., says the safety checks could include stopping vehicles and searching for things like unbuckled seat belts, alcohol, guns and drugs.

Kelley added criminals often come downtown in the hopes of getting lost in the crowds. She believes this new plan, along with an expanded surveillance camera network that will read license plates, will make the bad guys think twice.

“You can do that and make sure that people realize that this is a place that, first of all they’re going to get caught and it’s really not a good idea to do it here because people are looking out for it,” Kelley said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is skeptical of the plan. A spokesperson says the ACLU worries the checks could infringe on constitutional rights.

Kelley also said the city is working with a public relations firm to help deal with some of the image challenges the downtown area is facing as a result of recent crimes.

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“We don’t want to seem disingenuous and say that there aren’t any problems, that you don’t have anything to worry about, that crime doesn’t happen down here because that’s just not true,” said Kelley. “But we want people to know that this is a great place to come. There are more and more things opening every day, every week and there’s a lot to do down here for families.”

So far there’s no timetable for when the safety checks will begin.



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