Faced with persistent crime and shrinking manpower, St. Louis police are turning to large concrete barriers to protect a slice of the city, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The barriers have been installed on several “state” streets in two neighborhoods: Ohio, Texas, and California Avenues, and nine other streets. Hundreds of similar barricades are all over St. Louis, helping to curb speeders and insulate otherwise hectic city blocks. Some were in put in place more than 20 years ago, also to deter crime.
In one of the new districts with barriers, the targeted 2-square-mile area accounts for nearly a third of the crime in a 27-square-mile patrol area. The local bill of fare is marijuana and crack cocaine. Prostitutes can be seen at all hours, taking clients into secluded alleys. In sweeps last summer, police say two-thirds of the arrests were of people from outside the neighborhood. Hoping to keep from repeating the trend, the city put up the barricades to make the neighborhood less accessible. A dozen more blocks have been turned into one-way streets for the same effect. Reaction among residents has been mixed. Many people are receptive, but one resident complained that the “tank stoppers” make the neighborhood look like a war zone.