In an editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ruminates on the “disturbing national trend” of increasing violent crime: “Violent street crime flourishes in the presence of poverty and hopelessness. A very high percentage of homicides are committed by young men with little family guidance, less education and no job prospects. For them, selling drugs, carrying guns and settling grudges become ways of life. But street gangs and young killers have been around for decades. Why did crime drop so markedly beginning in the late 1990s and continuing into the early years of this decade?
“There were more cops on the street, the result of federal programs that since have been abandoned…Today, the economy is weakening, and many of the criminals who were in jail have returned to the community. What can a community do in the face of these national trends? In the short term, we should give cops better tools to take guns off the street. We should focus more resources on what the law enforcement group’s report calls ‘hometown’ security as an element of homeland security. But long-term solutions will require a much greater commitment by the entire community to address poverty, to find jobs for offenders returning to society, to provide treatment for substance addiction and mental illness and to deliver a decent education to young people.”