ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- While police are picking up enforcement efforts in downtown St. Louis, some people say some officers are hesitant to tackle the crime.
News 4 has been digging through data and speaking with experts about crime in downtown St. Louis. Many people have been talking about the barriers in downtown and city officials say don't expect them to go away any time soon. While there is some optimism that the crime problem downtown is finally getting attention, one former officer News 4 talked with said it's a lot more complicated than putting up some hunks of concrete.
Officers conducted several traffic stops in downtown St. Louis and the North Riverfront neighborhoods over the weekend. A total of nine people were arrested on the following charges: felony fleeing, unlawful use of a weapon, felony warrants, violation of a controlled substance, and tampering.
Major Dan Howard just retired from St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department a month ago and used to be commander of the downtown district. He says the cruising is nothing new.
“This is not some cute, driving a car fast and showing up a pretty car, these are criminals that are also cruising,” said Howard.
In July, robberies and assaults downtown were up 100 percent from last year and burglaries are up 160 percent.
Howard says the barricades that are now up are a good start, but more can be done. “I would say we spike, tow and arrest at great volumes,” Howard said. “Every time you tow a vehicle, put it on Twitter and let them know if you come downtown and misbehave, you're going to lose your fancy cars."
That's exactly what SLMPD did while targeting downtown over the weekend. On Monday, police posted pictures of towed cars and ATVs and seized guns.
But Howard says there's another problem: officers are hesitant to step up. “We ask them to do dangerous things and make split second decisions and you better be right,” Howard said.
He says many of his officers don't feel supported in today's climate. But he says everyone has to pull together, to make downtown and other parts of the city safe.