Gun crimes increasing in St. Louis

6:06 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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By Steve Patterson

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - It is a summer of gun violence in St. Louis.

Police say crime, even violent crime, is trending down. But add a weapon and that curve goes up.

Through the month of July, there have been 300 more aggravated assaults year-over-year from 2011, meaning assaults either with a weapon or causing severe bodily harm.

"I have never felt uncomfortable," said Clifton Heights Resident Julie Walton. "I've always told people I feel safe. Within the last six months, I've had to qualify that with I feel 'relatively safe' and I don't like it."

The rash has caused police to implement a 30-day surge, putting more boots on the night beat and shifting officers to higher crime areas.

Police are also reaching out to academia for help. UMSL Professor Dr. Richard Rosenfeld has been added to analyze the St. Louis police department's response as part of a new public safety partnership with the university and city.

As a criminologist, he'll work with police until on special leave from the university until the end of this calendar year. He says there's no one way to tell why assaults are up, but he's confident in the new strategy.

"I'm hopeful that the effort will in some sense cool those areas off. The challenge is to try to sustain those reductions over time," he said.

And despite recent crimes at Saint Louis University, Washington University and the Central West End, Rosenfeld says crime remains mostly contained to areas it always has been.

"I have not seen any evidence suggesting that for some reason, this summer crime has begun in any substantial way to spread," he said. It is not going beyond the areas where it's traditionally been concentrated."



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