Rick Rosenfeld

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The use of the term “Ferguson Effect,” first came into play in November of 2014, when city police Chief Sam Dotson said that police officers had reduced arrests following Michael Brown’s death and “the criminal element is feeling more empowered by the environment.” He used these ideas as reasoning for why the homicide rate in St. Louis was going up.

Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is not alone in confronting an increase in violent crime, but what little comfort that may provide city officials is tempered by the fact that there are relatively few resources readily available to help cities across the U.S. confront their own rise in gun and drug related violence.

Mayors from 20 cities along with chiefs of police, an array of federal law enforcement officials, and academics met in Washington on Wednesday for a Department of Justice sponsored summit on violent crime.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Samuel Dotson, both attended the day-long session to share ideas, concerns and to make appeals to federal officials for assistance.

Homicides reported in the City of St. Louis, according to Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, by year. The 2014 year-to-date number is as of 10/27/2014.
Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics / FBI

In 2013, the city of St. Louis recorded 120 homicides. The city’s 148th homicide of 2014 occurred Tuesday night.

That’s nearly a 25 percent year-over-year increase, and is a problem that needs to be investigated, said Richard “Rick” Rosenfeld, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and former president of the American Society of Criminology.

Rosenfeld doesn’t buy into the “Ferguson effect” — the notion that crime increased after the August shooting death of an 18-year-old man by a police officer in Ferguson, at least not in homicide numbers.

St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Like many cities around the country, St. Louis is dealing with the ongoing problem of urban crime. Just over half-way through the year, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says overall crime is down over 11 percent, and violent crime is down almost 6 percent. Overall crime in the city is down almost 50 percent since 2006.

“We have many fewer crimes now than we did just five years ago,” Dotson said Wednesday. With one noticeable exception.

St. Louis Public Radio

The 2013 crime statistics for the city of St. Louis were released last week, with mostly positive results. The city continued its five-year downward trend in both violent crime and property crime, but there was a 6 percent increase in homicides. And, a jump in the number of rapes is attributed to a change in classification of what constitutes rape.

St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

The St. Louis Police Department is using a new strategy to curb crime.

Aggravated assaults with firearms are up about 20 percent so far this year over last year.

The police department recently began working with University of Missouri-St. Louis criminology professor Rick Rosenfeld to reduce violent crime.

St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom says the new strategy is to flood high-crime areas with officers during evening hours.