Feeling the weight of St. Louis’ 8,645 car thefts, 3,147 robberies, and 129 murders last year, Capt. Ed Kuntz, head of the new police Crime Suppression Unit, recognizes the street fight that will be needed to knock down the crime rate, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. “It’s kind of like the all-star game of crime,” he said. “We’re looking for the criminal all stars – our best guys against their most prolific.”
The 55-member unit was formed in January to attack St. Louis’ 5.8 percent rise in crime last year. The team of hand-picked detectives, whom Kuntz described as some of the department’s youngest and most aggressive, relies heavily on informers and crime data to identify neighborhoods where persistent criminals live. Its officers spend a lot of time trying to catch auto thieves – minnows of the criminal world – because data show that stolen cars are commonly used as getaway cars in more serious crimes. Their top priority is to scratch names off a list of 300 felons by catching them in the act and putting them back behind bars. These are repeat offenders who have returned to the streets after multiple jail sentences. Catching career criminals, Kuntz believes, would make the city’s crime rate fall dramatically this year.