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Morning headlines: Friday, August 24, 2012

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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.

Police chief Dan Isom says more officers will now concentrate on high-crime areas. But they will no longer respond to the scene of non-violent crimes involving vehicles. Instead, those incident reports will be taken over the phone.

"We are putting more officers on evening watch," said Isom during a press conference. "We are going to address these hot spots and some of the aggravated assaults that have gone up in the past year. But we are also going to try to relieve some of our officers from reports where cars are broken into."

Isom announced Thursday that two 18-year-old males have been arrested for Boken's murder. They are expected to be formally charged today.

Missing teen held captive for two years, escapes in southwestern Ill.

Police in southwestern Illinois say a teenage girl reported missing more than two years ago has escaped from a home where she was held captive.  

Police in Washington Park, a village next to East St. Louis, say the girl was raped by her captor, got pregnant and had a baby. She escaped from the home earlier this week and went to police, saying her child was still in the house.

About two dozen members of a SWAT team swarmed the home Thursday afternoon and recovered the child. 

A 24-year-old man has been arrested. Washington Park Police Chief David Clark says it appears the man's mother assisted in the crime. Police say the girl was listed as a missing or runaway juvenile in April 2010. She was 15 when she disappeared.

St. Louis County and casino at odds over taxes

St. Louis County and Harrah's casino are at odds over how much the gambling establishment should pay in taxes. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the two sides argued their case Thursday before the county Board of Equalization.

County Assessor Jake Zimmerman in June raised the personal property value of the casino in Maryland Heights to $439 million, a big jump from the previous value of $152 million. Added to the casino's real estate value of about $63 million, the move brought the total appraised value to about $502 million. Zimmerman's appraisal would up the casino's property taxes to $14.3 million, from $6.2 million last year. The casino's lead attorney argued that Zimmerman used a wrong formula.

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