Rick Rosenfeld and Sam Dotson
Alex Heuer

This week’s shooting of a police officer in the Central West End underscores the fact that crime continues to be a big problem in the area.

As of July 14, St. Louis City’s homicide rate is on pace to exceed the number of homicides in 2014.

James Clark of Better Family Life speaks at a news conference in the mayor's office on March 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is increasing its funding for a local agency’s initiative to shift the culture of St. Louis’s most dangerous blocks away from violence.

Better Family Life is getting a total of $55,000 from the city’s public safety fund for its Neighborhood Alliance program, which puts outreach specialists and case managers in the neighborhoods to connect families to resources and teach conflict resolution.

Dr. Duru Sakhrani, left, and Valerie Carter-Thomas talk to "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh on March 11, 2015 at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Violence affects all of us. But for children, violence can be particularly difficult to cope with and understand.

Compounding the issue, there’s not a specific type or source of violence to address.

“It’s violence in the home; violence in the streets. It’s exposure to violence, the length of exposure, the amount of exposure, the pervasiveness of exposure,” Dr. Duru Sakhrani, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis, told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The anti-violence initiative Stop the Killing has been wildly popular among street demonstrations in Ferguson since the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer on August 9.

The campaign’s simple message with a design of purple hands held aloft, hearts on each palm, has seemed almost tailor-made to fit the protests of Ferguson's most popular chant “hands up, don’t shoot!” The chant stems from witness accounts that Brown’s hands were up when he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson last month. 

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Most people want the nightly violence in the streets of Ferguson to end.

But getting there could take a while.

The protestors who have been gathering daily in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 say they just want justice done.

For many, that means seeing police officer Darren Wilson arrested and imprisoned.

But Washington University public health professor Darrell Hudson said short of that, providing more information about the investigations would help.

BreaDora, Marcus, theirBreaDora, Marcus, Jasmine and their mother Irma sit in their living room on August 17, 2014.  sister and their mother Irma in their living room Sunday night.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

When violence broke out in Ferguson late Sunday, St. Louis Public Radio reporters Stephanie Lecci and Durrie Bouscaren took refuge in a family’s home. Bouscaren asked them what life is like right now in the formerly quiet suburb.

We met the Moore family in the middle of the night, after running from tear gas and gunfire during Sunday night’s clash between police and protestors. Stranded miles away from our cars, we knocked on the door of a house with the lights still on. Irma Moore let us in.


(Flickr Creative Commons User essygie)

At a community forum in north St. Louis County Monday night, elected officials, law enforcement and educators discussed ways to curb youth violence.   In short, speakers said tackling the problem will require a collective effort and include everything from affordable housing to job creation.

Even though the root causes of violence are often complex, Lt. Colonial Ken Gregory of the St. Louis County Police said fostering healthy families is where the solution starts.

“We don’t have that working for us then we have nothing,” Gregory said. 

Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 Thursday, Feb. 7 with arrest numbers.

The St. Louis Police Department is deploying 80 extra officers and resources to north city’s College Hill neighborhood.

The area, which borders O’Fallon Park to the west and Interstate 70 to the north, has been the site of a number of shootings recently, including three murders.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the department is used to this kind of “hot-spot policing,” and says the tactic has been used to great effect in other parts of the city.

(Provided By: Penguin Group USA)

Author and psychologist Steven Pinker argues that violence is on the decline.  In, "The Better Angels of Our Nature,” Pinker says despite ongoing news about war, terrorism, and other crimes, violence is declining.  Pinker also examines why people are pulled toward violence and debunks myths about violence.

Host Don Marsh talks with Steven Pinker about his book and thought provoking studies and analysis.  Pinker spoke recently at the St. Louis County Library.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Washington University is hosting a conference tomorrow afternoon on public health challenges in the 21st century.

Melissa Jonson-Reid directs Wash U's Brown Center for Violence and Injury Prevention.

She says one challenge the conference will take on is the problem of violence in St. Louis, and the role local public health professionals can play in addressing it.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

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.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

St. Louis police change procedure in light of uptick in violent crime

Responding to a recent spate of violent crime in some parts of the city that have been thought of as safe, St. Louis police are changing some of their officers' procedures and duties.

Twenty-three-year-old Megan Boken was fatally shot on Saturday in the Central West End,  and several women were robbed at gunpoint near Busch Stadium this week.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Ill. DNR director cannot rule out park closures

Amanda Vinicky contributed reporting from Springfield.

The director of the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources says his department will do all it can to keep the state's parks open after the failure of a $2 increase in license plate fees that would have provided a funding stream the the DNR.

But Marc Miller says he can't rule anything out, because the department has seen its budget slashed by 50 percent over the last decade.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

East St. Louis nightclubs and other local businesses are bankrolling extra weekend police patrols after a series of violent crimes.

Mayor Alvin Parks Jr. says the city needs more officers on the street but cannot afford them on its own.

“This is taking already existing officers and paying them to work this special detail," Parks said. "A detail that will be about six officers downtown and another two in the rest of the city where there might be late night activity.”

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UPDATE 12:35 p.m. 12-1-10:

Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that the shootings may not be gang related, as was previously stated:

Police on Wednesday did an about-face and said the Reliable Funeral Home shootings may not be gang related, despite previous public statements from Chief Dan Isom."The Chief initially said at the scene that he thought it may be the result of feuding between two gangs but further investigation has not been able to support that," said Erica Van Ross, a spokeswoman for the deparment. "After learning that the parties may have initially become involved in an argument at the funeral, this appears to be, at this point at least, stemming from a personal dispute."

Police say two people are dead after a gang-related shooting outside a St. Louis funeral home while a service was being held inside.
Two other people were injured in the shooting about noon Tuesday at Reliable Funeral Home.