And violent crime is skyrocketing…
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Since Kimberly Gardner took over the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office more than two years ago, more than 65 prosecutors have quit or been fired, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
What could cause an office to experience a rate of more than 100 percent turnover?
Experts are chalking it up to Gardner’s progressive agenda, which seems to focus more on the rights of the criminals than the safety of the community.
Reports said that with the departure of all of these professionals, the St. Louis legal system has hemorrhaged 470 combined years of prosecutorial experience, leaving the city in a tough situation.
Gardner has a self-proclaimed progressive agenda, and lost about half of the 65 prosecutors within the first year of taking office. She told the media that she would be fine without them.
“Some people want to go through it with me, and some do not,” she told reporters back in 2017. “Most of those people who left, I’m not missing them.”
Wonder if she’s missing them now, after her office continues to post less than desirable numbers for their cases.
Instead of ensuring that hardened criminals are properly dealt with in the legal system, Gardner’s office has seemed to narrow its focus to going after ‘crooked cops’ and officers whom they deem as problems, continuously touting that she’s proud of holding police accountable, going after bad cops and scrutinizing all evidence provided by law enforcement.
After a violent summer in St. Louis, tension is building between police and the woman in charge of prosecuting crimes. https://t.co/ESTG49jzdR
— STLBusinessJournal (@stlouisbiz) September 16, 2019
According to reports, Gardner’s office declined charges in 60% of the 5,000 cases brought by police between January and June of this year. It seems as if she’s far more concerned with going after police than ensuring that actual criminals get prosecuted.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch also said that data from the 22nd Circuit Court showed the dismissal rate of felony cases had climbed to the highest it’s been in a decade, just in the two-and-a-half years that Gardner has been in power.
“Through August of this year, the Circuit Attorney’s Office has dropped 31 percent of all resolved cases, more than double the dismissal rate of any year this decade except for last year, when it was 23 percent,” the Post Dispatch reported.
Experts also said that the lack of experience in Gardner’s office is showing; a quick look at their win rate for cases shows the struggle.
“Quite honestly, the office is made up of rookies and that’s why I think the win rate is so bad,” said Terry Niehoff, a St. Louis defense lawyer.
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Another former assistant circuit attorney said that it’s not normal to lose that many people in the timeframe that Gardner has.
“The real concern is you don’t have the people that are entrenched that can teach the people fresh out of law school how to be prosecutors,” former Assistant Circuit Attorney Jeff Ernst said.
The Post-Dispatch said that Gardner has other staffing issues as well.
“It’s not just trial attorneys leaving. Executive staffers have gone, too,” the outlet reported. “Gardner’s second chief of staff recently quit; she is on her second first assistant and her fourth chief trial assistant.”
While Gardner claims that her progressive approach is leading to a reduction of crime… the numbers don’t exactly back that argument up.
“I’m not saying that we don’t have a crime problem in the city of St. Louis. But with these reforms,” Gardner said at the forum, “crime is going down with the efforts of a public-safety and harm-reduction model.”
The jail population has been declining, that’s for sure. But that’s what happens when your office declines to press charges.
According to the Post-Dispatch’s report, the average inmate count per day at city jails has declined 23 percent since 2016.
But violent crime is on the rise. Numbers for 2019 show that since August, homicides have increased by 16 percent; robberies are up by 3 percent and shootings have increased by 6 percent.