City leaders speak on how to reduce shootings in city parks, pla - KMOV.com

City leaders speak on how to reduce shootings in city parks, playgrounds

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A memorial marks the spot where Jennifer Dorsey, 27, was shot and killed in Rumbold Park. A memorial marks the spot where Jennifer Dorsey, 27, was shot and killed in Rumbold Park.
Investigators on the scene of a quadruple shooting on the playground at Rumbold Park. Investigators on the scene of a quadruple shooting on the playground at Rumbold Park.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - News 4 has been tracking a growing and disturbing crime trend, more and more shootings in parks and playgrounds with children present.

On Tuesday, a quadruple shooting at Rumbold Park left a mother of two dead.

Chief Sam Dotson of St. Louis Police Department says there are systems in place to curb the violence.

"There are 30 park rangers, including supervisors, for the city's many parks and they do visit parks. From Forest Park to Carondelet Park, to Fairground Park to O'Fallon Park, all the time,” Chief Dotson said.

Still, park rangers haven't been able to stop the growing trend of gun violence in city parks.

There have been at least six cases of park or playground shootings so far in 2015.

Chief Dotson said there aren't enough park rangers to be at every park at all times, which is why he is more concerned about having a patrol plan.

"Some people become focused on park rangers. What we need is an approach that allows us to add more police officers,” Dotson said.

The approach means adding 160 new police officers to the force, said Dotson, a request he says he's made to the Board of Aldermen before.

Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen said not only is the money not there, but the decision is not up to the board.

"The voters would have to approve leveraging an additional tax on themselves to hire additional officers," said Alderman Reed.

In the meantime, Reed said stopping the ongoing violence begins with an increased focus on finding the suspects behind any unsolved shootings and murders.

"If someone goes out and they commit a crime and there are no repercussions, they are going to be emboldened, the next time, and the next time, and the next time,” Reed said.

He added that one of the things the police department can do now is hire additional officers to fill the open positions currently available.

Just like Chief Dotson, Alderman Reed is also advocating for stronger gun laws.
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