ST. LOUIS – Wednesday’s crime summit was aimed at reducing what some say is the number one issue holding back St. Louis.

“To spur development in communities that badly need it in our region, we have to bring down levels of violent crime,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a UMSL criminologist.

Richard Liekweg, BJC HealthCare President & CEO, said a heightened number of post-traumatic stress disorder cases are being reported among healthcare workers treating gunshot wounds. He said last year, the BJC hospital system treated 1,830 patients for gunshot-related injuries, including a pregnant mother.

“Gunshots went through her uterus and through her baby, causing serious injury to both mom and her baby,” Liekweg said.

He added that St. Louis Children’s Hospital reported a record number of gunshot wounds last year.

Thomas Abt is a criminologist and leader with the Violence Reduction Center at the University of Maryland. He said trust in the criminal justice system is a big part of reducing crime. Abt spoke about a scenario where someone turns to violence instead of calling 911 to report a crime. He said the retaliation could lead to a shooting.

“That shooting might lead to a killing, and then that cycle of retaliatory violence has begun,” Abt said.

He said another key to reducing crime is finding ways to avoid letting political extremes prevent regional leaders from working together. Abt said social programs alone do not solve crime problems, just as policing alone is not the answer.

“You have to be willing to do both,” he said. “You must be willing to push back on the political extremes that try and pull you apart and say, pick one or the other.”