Homicides down by 30 percent in St. Louis

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by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on December 26, 2011 at 11:36 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 9:28 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Police and crime-fighting organizations around St. Louis are claiming a big victory.  Homicides are down by 30 percent for the year.  So far this year 113 people have been killed.  That's a big drop from last year's toll of 144.

Police hope this bit of good news iS only the beginning of a steady drop in all kinds of crime.  After back-to-back years of high homicide rates, a new approach -- using all facets of the justice system -- is showing serious success.

Evidence markers covering shell casings are a familiar sight around St. Louis.  Last May Tonia Parson, 18, was gunned down in broad daylight.  She was sitting in her car on Palm in north St. Louis when someone shot her and her unborn child.

"A year and a half and I have no peace, I have no closure," Michelle Parson, Tonia's mom, said.  "All I do is wait on a phone to ring."

More than half of the homicides in St. Louis remain unsolved.

"We have got to begin to change this 'stop snitching' culture," James Clark of Better Family Life said.  "And we've got to begin to challenge the behavior of our friends."

Better Family Life has been imploring people to put down the pistol for two years.  It's part of a city-wide effort to curb crime, and it's working.  Murders are down 30 percent this year.

"We think that this is a big victory," Clark said.

It started when police targeted hot spots and saturated them with patrols.  Then Judge Jack Garvey took a tough stance on gun crimes, raising bond amounts to keep gun-toting criminals behind bars longer.  Then a homeowner in Lafayette Square spearheaded an effort to cut crime by involving neighbors.  He brought the police chief and circuit attorney on board.  They took their Neighborhood Stabilization model all throughout the city, teaching citizens how to patrol and show up to court to kick out the crooks terrorizing their neighborhoods -- for good.

"We see it really beginning to gain momentum," Clark said.  "We are very excited about taking this energy into 2012."

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