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Crime Summit Begins In St. Louis

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Urban Crime Summit organized by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster came to St. Louis Wednesday.

The four-day gathering of law enforcement and criminology experts began in Kansas City Monday and is scheduled to continue at Saint Louis University’s School of Law through Thursday.

In his opening remarks, Koster told those gathered that 105 murders in Kansas City last year and 113 in St. Louis were too many.

"The fact that we are here is a statement that we do not accept this violence as the status quo," he said.

The summit will include sessions on gang violence, public safety and mental health resources, and an armed offender docket.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is not slowing his campaign for a special gun docket, even after circuit judges in the city voted against the plan on Monday.

The city is "awash in guns," Slay said in his opening comments.

"The courts have not caught up with the times or with the demands of our citizens, but we’re still working on that issue," the mayor said.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said so far this year there have been a total of 3,010 crimes committed with guns, including 1,686 victims of aggravated assaults with firearms.

The police chief also gave some hopeful data. In 1993, St. Louis’ peak year for murders there were 267. Dotson said last year’s 113 murders amounts to a 58 percent drop.

There are signs that the city and county may soon work more closely together on crime. Mayor Slay said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley approached him this week about reporting crime statistics jointly, and coordinating police policies and standards.

Dooley said the county, with its 1 million people, is no stranger to crime.

"It is not a rural county. It is an urban county with the same issues that any large metropolitan area would have," Dooley said. "Crime knows no boundaries."

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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