The 158 murders in St. Louis this year so far have made 2014 the most violent of recent years, with at least 38 more murders than last year, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It's the highest yearly tally since 2008, when the city recorded 167 murders. The reasons for the rise are unclear, especially at a time when homicides in several other U.S. cities this year are continuing a downward trend. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Denver, Detroit, Milwaukee and Kansas City are among cities likely to see declines in homicides, say newspaper accounts and police data.
University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Rick Rosenfeld said the increase in homicides in four north St. Louis neighborhoods accounted for most of the year's overall rise in murders. “The homicide increase is highly localized,” he said. “Most areas of the city saw no change over last year.” Police Chief Sam Dotson said he believed one of the reasons for the increase here since August could be what he has called the “Ferguson effect,” the belief that criminals became more emboldened since the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. Dotson believes crime rose in part because police were diverted from regular patrols to special details focusing on civil unrest.