Chief Frustrated As St. Louis Homicide Toll Rises


Reviewing St. Louis’s 15 percent homicide increase last year, Police Chief Joe Mokwa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It’s distressing. I felt we were doing everything we could conceivably do to reduce violence.” St. Louis had 131 killingsr 17 more than in 2004, and the highest total since 2001. Slayings continued to rebound after a remarkable low of 74 in 2003, the first year since 1962 to have fewer than 100. Several of St. Louis County’s quiet suburban communities recorded their first murders in years.

Scott Decker, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said, “Murder has gone up in many cities, such as Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Houston. I haven’t seen enough of the numbers to determine if there’s a national trend here, but if there is, it would be hard for us not to buck that trend.” He noted that in the recent past, certain high-crime neighborhoods had benefited from Project Safe Neighborhoods, in which the police department, using concentrated patrols, worked closely with federal and state prosecutors. “I can understand, with all of the events in St. Louis needing police manpower, how it would be hard to sustain the concentrated police intervention,” he said. Murder is a capricious crime, which often shows wide swings from year to year. Experts say to watch long-term trends, and in the city that is encouraging. In a five-year period in the early 1990s, St. Louis averaged 242 killings a year. In the 10 years since, the average was down to 126.


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