Crime | St. Louis Public Radio

Crime

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St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden speaks to residents at Clinton-Peabody Public Housing Complex on Friday, Aug. 3.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Bobbi Len Taylor Mitchell-Bey's children were killed at the Clinton-Peabody housing complex in south St. Louis more than a year ago.

On Friday, she asked federal and local law enforcement officials to find out who killed them, and others.

“I’m trying to ask about all the unsolved murders out here,” she said, during a meeting at Peabody Elementary School. “‘Cuz I done lost two children down here. Not saying they was the best of kids, but they weren’t bad, so what y’all doing about that?”

Mitchell-Bey was among a couple of dozen residents of Clinton-Peabody who attended the meeting to demand better policing and better access to city services and resources.

Simone Townsend, 52, sits on the stoop of her Penrose home. She says she sees an increase in crime during the summer months in her neighborhood.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The start of summer means more time outside, but for Simone Townsend, rising temperatures lead to anxiety about safety in her Penrose neighborhood.

“The time frame I start to worry is when it starts to warm up, whether it’s in May or June or April,” Townsend said.

So her 12-year-old son and her grandchildren aren’t allowed to go outside without her or another adult. Townsend said she’s seen violence just outside her home in north St. Louis, and when summer starts, the risk only increases.

The homicide rate in Missouri from 1999- 2016 continues to rank higher than in surrounding states.
Richard Rosenfeld | University of Missouri-St. Louis

Missouri has the highest black homicide rate in the United States, according to a report by the Violence Policy Center.

The study, called the Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data, examined federal data from 2015. It found that the homicide rates for blacks in Missouri is 46.24 per 100,000, more than double the national black homicide rate of 18.67 per 100,000. (The national white homicide victimization rate of 2.67 per 100,000.)

St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards speaks at a Citizen Advisory Committee meeting in 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards made remarks about crime in St. Louis that prompted a sharp response from civil rights law firm ArchCity Defenders.

Edwards told a crowd at a Martin Luther King Day event that black-on-black crime was a problem African-American residents need to tackle.

Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Sandra Karsten speaks with interim St. Louis Police Chief Larry O'Toole in July. The Highway Patrol began monitoring St. Louis highways this summer.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Halfway through a 90-day initiative, the Missouri Highway Patrol has confiscated at least 20 illegal guns and made hundreds of arrests for outstanding warrants on Interstates 55 and 70 in St. Louis.

It’s the first time in modern history the patrol has deployed up to 30 troopers on interstate highways within the city of St. Louis for an extended period of time, Capt. John Hotz said. But watching the highways may be one of the few things state and federal government can do to help St. Louis bring down its crime rate, putting the onus primarily on St. Louis’ officers and citizens.

A memorial rests for Rashad Farmer, who was shot and killed in 2015 on the 5800 block of Lotus Avenue in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a grim trend tucked into St. Louis’ 2017 homicide statistics: More than half of the victims are black males under the age of 29 and close to half of those suspected of doing the shootings are in the same age range.

It illustrates a stark reality in the city’s crime-ridden neighborhoods. Officials with the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment say employment and education are an answer to reducing the number of young people killed. But those who have made connections with the city’s youth say there’s more to be done.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar (center) listens to remarks by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (03/31/17, Eagleton courthouse)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Some of St. Louis County’s mayors say money from a recently enacted sales tax increase may not make the region safer — especially because cities with high crime rates aren’t necessarily getting the most money.

The half-cent sales tax, which takes effect later fall and is widely known as Proposition P, was billed as to be used on public safety. The breakdown of the money gives about $46 million a year to the St. Louis County Police Department, with roughly $34 million from the tax will be split among the county’s 89 municipalities.

Alderwoman Pamela Boyd, D-27th Ward, August 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome St. Louis Alderwoman Pamela Boyd to the show for the first time.

Gov. Eric Greitens sits down for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the span of a week, Gov. Eric Greitens unveiled two high-profile proposals: A proposal aimed at reducing violent crime in St. Louis and a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

Critics of the Republican governor contended the plans lacked specificity – and questioned whether either proposal would stem the tide of St. Louis violence or opioid abuse. But in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Monday, Greitens positioned his two plans as "bold" action that should have been taken a long time ago.

Gov. Eric Greitens announces the "St. Louis Safety Plan" in north St. Louis on Monday, July 10, 2017.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ crime issue is now the state’s issue, too. At least, that’s what Gov. Eric Greitens indicated Monday when he announced a plan to direct state money and personnel toward the city.

The Republican’s proposal has the support of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, but other elected Democrats are skeptical that it addresses the root causes of the violence. Greitens did not detail how much money the state would spend for these efforts.

Joshua Peters, July 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Joshua Peters.

The St. Louis Democrat represents Missouri’s 76th House District, which takes in a portion of north St. Louis City. He was first elected to the House in a 2013 special election before being re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Saint John's United Church vigil gun violence Kenneth McKoy
FIle photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet repeatedly have promised to help get violent crime in cities like St. Louis, which is on pace to have 180-plus homicides for the third year in a row, under control.

The administration has promised an additional $200 million to combat the problem, with most of the money targeted to boosting enforcement. Though St. Louis is guaranteed none of that money, the budget is praised by local law enforcement and criticized by those who daily try to fight crime on the ground.

Volunteers clear brush from a community garden in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood June 24, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

At a community garden half a mile north of Powell Hall, Marcia Martin spent Saturday dragging branch trimmings into piles to clear out the greenery that had overrun the garden. Martin and her husband were joined by about a dozen other volunteers working on the lot at the corner of Montgomery and Coleman in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood.

“When we started on this project you couldn’t see the grass,” said Martin, 60, of St. Louis. “There were four of us down here working, and then all of these other people showed up. It was just amazing.”

Mayor Lyda Krewson addresses reporters on Fri., June 2, 2017, after a violent week in St. Louis left seven dead and 13 injured by gunfire.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Lyda Krewson said Friday that she’s “beside herself” over a rash of gun violence in St Louis this week that killed seven and injured 13 others, including a 7-year-old girl.

But even as she pledged more money for police officer salaries, Krewson seemed at a loss for how to bring the spiraling violence under control.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The leaders of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County say they are working with law enforcement to make it safer to ride MetroLink.

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

MetroLink train at station
File photo | Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Officials are considering "all options" to make the MetroLink system safer after the second fatal shooting on the light rail system in two months, the head of St. Louis' public transit agency said Thursday.

Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson at a press conference on January 15, 2015, discussing six homicides in 13 hours.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis' homicide level remained unchanged in 2016 compared with the previous year — 188. At the same time, aggravated assaults and other violent crimes were up and property crime was down, according to the latest crime statistics.

St. Louis' mayor and police chief on Tuesday touted an overall crime reduction of 4.1 percent, or 1,072 fewer incidents, in the last year. Compared to the peak crime year of 1993 when the city experienced 173 crimes per 1,000 people, last year saw 79 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens hugs Rev. Ken McKoy, a pastor with Progressive Zion A.M.E. Church. Greitens walked with McKoy as part of NightLIFE, a group that seeks to curb violence in north St. Louis neighborhoods.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

The bone-chilling streets of north St. Louis were largely empty last Friday night. An icy mist brought both automobile and foot traffic on Kingshighway to a halt, with the exception of a few cars and trucks – and a governor-elect.

On pavement that at times resembled an ice skating rink, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens walked methodically through the sidewalks and on the streets with a medium-sized scrum. The Republican chief executive-to-be was out with NightLIFE, a group seeking to curb violence in Fountain Park and Lewis Place neighborhoods.

Missouri Governor-elect Eric Greitens listens as wife Sheena talks about her expirence of being robbed to reporters in St. Louis.
Bill Greenblatt I UPI

Updated after Eric and Sheena Greitens' Tuesday press conference - Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is praising the quick work of law enforcement, and expressing sentiments of forgiveness, after Missouri's future First Lady was robbed at gunpoint on Monday night.

St. Louis police said in an emailed statement to St. Louis Public Radio that Sheena Greitens was sitting in her car near Cafe Ventana in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood. Her car door was suddenly opened by a suspect, who then pointed a gun at Sheena Greitens and demanded her property. She gave the suspect her laptop and cell phone.

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