Saint Louis, MO

Is St Louis the Most Dangerous City In The USA?

Ash Jurberg
PolicePhoto by AJ Colores on Unsplash

It seems that St Louis is the murder capital of the United States. Last year, St. Louis had the highest reported murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants. St. Louis’ homicide rate hit 87 murders per 100,000 residents in 2020, which has the highest number since 1970. It was a big jump from the previous top rate of 69 set in 1993. Sadly among those 87, there were 17 children younger than 18.

The chance of being a victim of some form of crime in St Louis is 1 in 52- the equal highest in the United States.

The question has to be asked is St Louis the most dangerous city in the United States, and what can we do to reverse this trend.

The crime statistics

The below statistics are disturbing but may come as no surprise to residents of St Louis. Check these out:

Violent Crime per 1000 residents:

St Louis 19.27.

Missouri average 4.95

United States average 4

the number of violent crimes reported to the FBI to have occurred in each city, and 2) the population of each city.

Victim of property crime per 1000 residents

St Louis 62.03

Missouri average 26.39

United States average 21

Number of crimes per square mile

St Louis 370 per square mile

Missouri average 33

United States average 28.3

All of these paint the picture of a city full of crime.

Why The Increase in 2020?

The massive increase in violent crime in the region aligns with the end of the first round of stay-at-home orders from the pandemic. This pattern wasn't seen just in St. Louis but across the nation.

Criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Richard Rosenfeld, co-wrote an ongoing review of crime data for the Council on Criminal Justice. He looked at 28 cities across the United States and found violent crime rose sharply across these cities beginning in late May.

“St. Louis sees a similar spike that we saw elsewhere, but what’s different is its starting level was already so high” Richard Rosenfield, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

While the trend was national, what is alarming is, as Rosenfield notes, that St Louis had a high number before the stay-at-home orders.

Last year the St. Louis police Chief John Hayden said that officer morale was “being drained” due to the incredibly heavy workload. Just in July of 2020, the city reported 53 homicides, the most in a single month.

(July was) “more demanding than I’ve seen as a St. Louis police officer in 33½ years.” St. Louis police Chief John Hayden

The homicide unit expanded in order to cope with the increased workloads. An additional six detectives and a sergeant were added to the homicide unit. In total, the St Louis homicide unit has 31 detectives and seven sergeants.

Cure Violence

Leaders of the St Louis community are working on curbing the increased crime rate. Last year saw the launch of Cure Violence, a Chicago-based program operating in cities around the world. The program aims to treat violence as a contagious disease by preventing its spread in high-crime neighborhoods. The program is overseen by the St. Louis Department of Public Health.

The program hires what it calls “violence interrupters,” these are people with close ties to the neighborhoods where they work, who use employment, counseling, and other aid to deter residents from violence. The program was initially launched in three neighborhoods — Wells-Goodfellow, Walnut Park, and Dutchtown— by the end of 2020.

”We do see gun violence as a public health issue. And unfortunately we see that a lot of areas hit by gun violence are also the most affected by other health issues. It’s the areas where preexisting conditions made COVID-19 worse. It’s where economic indicators have been worsened by the pandemic. We have to work to make sure these places are not forgotten.” Dr. Fredrick Echols, acting health director, St. Louis Department of Public Health

The city has invested $7 million into the anti-crime program. Former felons, drug dealers, and gang members are involved. Violence interrupters have been credited for stopping crimes such as this case of one violence interrupter preventing a stabbing on the 4600 blocks of Virginia in south St. Louis.

Hopefully, this program can expand and help curb the violent crime affecting St Louis. The title of most dangerous city in the United States is not something to be proud of.

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