St. Louis has recorded nine people slain in 10 days. Assaults on police officers have been on the rise, too, officials say, thanks to a crop of young criminals willing to shoot their way out of capture, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Yet the crime charts in Police Chief Joe Mokwa’s PowerPoint presentation were all pointing down. “I’m happy to report that crime is continuing its double-digit decreases,” he told Mayor Francis Slay and the other four police commissioners this week. According to his figures, the city hasn’t tallied so few reports of crimes since Richard Nixon was president.
What’s happening is difficult to sort out. A surge in homicides captures the public’s attention and seems to suggest that trouble is brewing. Just five years ago, the city went a whole summer month without a killing. Now homicide detectives are being dispatched daily. No arrests have been made in any of the cases, which seem unconnected. “Crimes like this are essentially random occurrences,” said Mike Maltz, emeritus criminal justice professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. “Sometimes they just mount up at one time for no particular reason.” Overall, reports in the violent crime category – including murders, rapes, robberies, and serious assaults – were down nearly 16 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with same period of 2007. Taken alone, murders – a small but very visible part of the equation – were rising, up 25 percent the first quarter this year from 2007, and up more than 40 percent to date.