ST. LOUIS ( -- St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones outlined a new initiative aimed at cutting down crime in downtown St. Louis.

Jones, accompanied by local business owners and community leaders, announced the Downtown Engagement and Public Safety Effort to tackle violence in the area. The announcement comes after several shootings along Washington Avenue, a popular St. Louis strip. The recent gun violence has left residents and business owners frustrated as calls for city officials to take further action to make downtown safer increase. The mayor stated her administration has already taken action against "problematic bars and clubs, issuing citations to multiple establishment like Reign and Wheelhouse." She adds that the root of the issues in downtown run deep and its easier to treat the symptoms than the cause. However, Jones said she is committed to address these issues. 

"I see an idle downtown as a troublemaker's paradise," Jones said. "It's our shared responsibility as a city to create opportunities for our young people and families to enjoy downtown. When I say I want St. Louis to win again that includes our downtown core home to some of the region's largest businesses, iconic landmarks and attractions like Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch."

Citing data on higher crime on Fridays and weekends, Public Safety Director Daniel Isom said one of their enforcement strategies will be adding 30 more officers, alongside the current 25 foot and bike officers, to patrol the streets from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. throughout the weekend for five to six weeks. The influx of officers was present last week during the annual Ride of Century event. 

"We are also looking to do more enforcement of parking rules, parking curfew, and license plate tag issues," Isom said. 

Kevin Liese owns Jack Patrick's on the corner of 10th and Olive and said four months ago, a rolling gun battle passed right by his restaurant.

"We're caught in the middle of people know they can get away with things down here, the bad element knows they can get away with things and the police can't do much about it," he said.

He has owned the bar for 23 years and said the pandemic has hurt business tremendously, but crime is another big reason fewer people are walking through the door.

New data released last week by Cure Violence St. Louis found the amount of gun violence incidents citywide decreased between May-July 2020 compared to May-July 2021. The data shows there were approximately 350 gun violence related incidents in July of 2020, compared to 175 in July of this year. Further, there were 45 gun related homicides in July of 2020 compared to 19 this past July.

The data also shows aggravated assaults are down, with 250 incidents taking place last July compared to 150 this year.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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