The Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District (CID) provides secondary security throughout its Downtown footprint by dispatching officers for additional patrols, checking in with businesses, and responding to quality-of-life matters. The CID contracts with a private security firm, The City’s Finest (TCF), in partnership with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) to commission off-duty SLMPD officers and security professionals with extensive experience. This additional layer of security displayed its strengths when an individual was attempting to jump off the Martin Luther King Bridge.
Within the past few weeks, the CID has assigned a daytime secondary security detail to Laclede’s Landing to assist with loitering, panhandling, business check-ins, and routine patrols. Security Officer and Supervisor Stephen Perkins is part of this new detail, providing training to the team’s Security Officers and overseeing their activity in the area. Perkins has been a part of this new unit for 6 months and brings with him a notable professional career within the security industry: 15 plus years in the security industry and 5 years as a Master of Arms in the Navy.
During the late afternoon of August 13th, Perkins was making his regular rounds when an approaching vehicle along 1st Street stopped to tell him there was an individual hanging off the bridge. Chief Operations Officer within the security firm, Lieutenant Matt Karnowski, noted that this detail alone peaked Perkins’ suspicion.
“The MLK bridge does not have a pedestrian pathway on it,” said Karnowski. “Officer Perkins made his way around the bridge and saw a male in clear distress.”
Perkins continued down 1st Street towards the riverfront and proceeded to make contact with the individual who shared he was having family issues and wanted to jump. Perkins’ training immediately came into action.
“That’s when I knew there was more going on here,” said Perkins. “I told him it’s not worth it. I said get back on the other side of the bridge and we can talk about it.”
Simultaneously, Perkins contacted a secondary police officer to assist at his location. By the time an officer arrived, Perkins had persuaded the individual to safely exit the bridge and shared that he would receive help.
Perkins employed his Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training which prepares officers to gain a quicker understanding of body language, predicting certain actions a person in crisis might take, and utilizing the right language to assist someone in distress. Perkins received his training and certification with SLMPD Officers through a hosted session at St. Louis University’s campus.
“Most of the TCF Officers have annual CIT training,” said Karnowski.
This certified training is a key tool for officers to utilize in the field – quickly assessing situations and determining a best course of action to deescalate them.
“I love what I’m doing,” said Perkins. “I want to reach out and help someone. I love working side-by-side with SLMPD.”
The CID’s layered approach to security is not just about adding more officers to the streets but bringing individuals with a diverse, experienced skill-set to intuitively manage challenging situations. Throughout the coming year, the CID intends to continue to grow this supplemental security program and the Downtown Bike Unit – the goal being to appropriately distribute resources and positively enhance the Downtown environment.
The individual in distress briefly spoke with Perkins and the assisting Officer but maneuvered around the two men and ran into Downtown. It is Lieutenant Karnowski’s understanding that district car was sent to survey the area but the man was not found.