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A response to “SLU’s treatment of the homeless population exposed”

David Heimburger, Vice President and CFO

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As the CFO of the University, and someone who attended “Pizza with the President” a few weeks ago, I would like to respond to the opinion piece published in the Oct. 18 issue of The University News regarding SLU’s treatment of the homeless population.

In this op-ed, it was asserted that the University “has been paying off-duty cops to arrest people experiencing homelessness near campus and they are given a bonus for people that they arrest.”  This assertion is simply not true and mischaracterizes my response to a question asked by another member of Labre.

Here are the facts:  SLU does hire off-duty St. Louis police officers to patrol the area between our North and South campuses while in uniform.  That is because our Department of Public Safety officers — by statute — do not have jurisdiction anywhere off of our campuses. But, these patrol officers do not arrest anyone just because they are homeless.

We provide these patrols because employees, students and their families have expressed concerns about crimes occurring in plain sight at and around the Grand Bridge MetroBus stations.  In August, there was a fatal shooting of an innocent bystander, who was a SLU alumni and volunteer at the station. There have also been multiple verified reports of people selling heroin and at least two fatal overdoses in the same area over the past year.  

I applaud the efforts of the op-ed author and Labre for their commitment to serving the homeless populations around SLU and in the region.  Their service does make a difference. Helping those less fortunate than ourselves is a foundation of our Jesuit mission.

In the future, I would ask any student, staff or faculty member who has questions about our safety efforts to contact DPS Chief Jim Moran or myself.  We will be glad to provide information about the many initiatives the University has undertaken to help keep our students, faculty and staff secure.

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A response to “SLU’s treatment of the homeless population exposed”