A new report by a pro-law enforcement group says violent crime has increased in American cities in the last two years.
Police chiefs across the country cite the same major reasons:
Easy access to guns and a culture of using violence to settle disputes
Deep cuts in federal law enforcement programs as the government shifts its focus and resources to homeland security
Record numbers of convicts being released from prison
Poverty and gangs
Chief Joe Mokwa and I noticed the increase in violence here — mostly concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods early on. That’s why we asked voters last August to give law enforcers the resources to add more police officers, expand the Most Violent Offenders unit, create a career criminal unit in the circuit attorney’s office, and expand jail space in the Justice Center. And that’s why Chief Mokwa re-organized the department.
The early returns are encouraging. Violent crime is down almost ten percent so far this year.
But, we have a long way to go and we’ll need more help. My office has been lobbying Congress to restore funding to the COPS program and Local Law Enforcement Block Grant. We are also lobbying the governor and Missouri General Assembly to increase resources to make communities all over the state safer.
The report from the Police Executive Research Forum says, “The nation is receiving a warning signal that federal, state and local governments must refocus their attention on crime in order to restore the level of safety and security that Americans experienced in the 1990s.”
We’ve already done that in St. Louis. I hope the state and federal governments will join us.