3 min read
Posted on 09.19.07
  • 3 min read
  • Posted on 09.19.07

Statement of Police Chief Joe Mokwa:

I am pleased to announce, our Department will receive a $500,000 grant from the Edward Byrne Law Enforcement Assistance Program and the Department of Justice to partner with the Police Executive Research Forum to examine root causes of violent crime involving the use of firearms and to create strategies to interrupt the cycle of violence.

By partnering with PERF, we hope to reduce gun-related violence in some of the City’s most violent neighborhoods and to make St. Louis an incubator for creative and comprehensive strategies to reduce gun related crimes.

The program will rely on increasing community involvement, along with the use of technology.

Together we will:

1) Assess the root causes of gun violence,
2) Convene a Violent Crime Summit of stakeholders,
3) Develop and implement a comprehensive strategy,
4) Evaluate the program’s impact, and
5) Purchase an urban gunshot detection system.

While Total Crime is down in the City of St. Louis by 14 percent this year, violent crime continues to be of concern. Like many U.S. cities, St. Louis has witnessed increases in violent crime, especially gun-related crime.

Contributing to this alarming trend is the availability of guns and the prevalence of gun use. In 2004, the national rate of firearms used in serious crimes equated to 466 per 100,000 residents, the St. Louis rate is almost 2.5 times higher at 1,144 per 100,000 residents. During 2006 the Department experienced a 22.7% increase in calls for shots fired and an 11.8% increase in calls for shootings, compared to the previous year.

St. Louis experiences a high percentage of gun-related homicides. Of the 129 homicides reported last year, 106 (82.1%) were the direct result of gun violence. Those rates were similar in the two previous years (88.5% in 2005 and 85.5% in 2004). On average, more than 60% of all robberies committed over the past three years were armed robberies.

There are a myriad of complex social and economic factors responsible for these occurrences. Through this partnership, we hope to refine and enhance community-wide approaches of combating gun-related violence. Our hope is that this project will create a model that can be used not only in St. Louis, but in other jurisdictions nationwide as well.

Objective 1 of the program will be to gain a thorough understanding of gun violence and related factors by analyzing crime data, to identify the areas of St. Louis most impacted by gun-related violence. An area of three to five adjacent neighborhoods that are “hot spots” for gun violence will serve as the project’s implementation site.

Objective 2 will be to convene a Gun Violence Summit, participants will include criminal justice officials, community members (including faith based groups) and business leaders. The collective expertise of the participants will drive the development of a comprehensive crime reduction program. Soliciting a wide range of perspectives will ensure the initiative receives “buy-in” from the community.
Objective 3 will be to develop and implement a comprehensive gun-violence reduction strategy based on the initial research and the ideas generated at the Gun Violence Summit that targets selected “hot spots”.

This Byrne Grant also allows for the purchase of an urban gunshot detection system that can be rapidly deployed to high-crime areas. This technology has been used to complement strategies in major cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Oakland and will help pinpoint gun fire in real time once fully implemented.

This is a significant step in proactive policing based on real information, community involvement and technology that will reduce gun related offenses and make our community safer. This is just the first step of what I envision as ongoing effort that will require the commitment of our community partners.