ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden and Mayor Tishaura Jones joined FOX 2 News for a “virtual” sit-down interview, Wednesday, about the city’s huge drop in homicides in 2021.
A review of the numbers shows it was still among the city’s deadliest years.
It came to a violent end with three people shot to death in a triple homicide 2 days before Christmas. At least 3 more followed with the city’s final homicide coming just two hours before the new year in Downtown St. Louis. A man was shot dead near 15th and Locust.
Still, the reported 195 homicides in 2021 dropped more than 25% from the near-record high of 262 in 2020, according to St. Louis Police.
Hayden and Jones said there were good reasons for the decline.
“One homicide is one too many and the things we’re doing around deterrence, intervention, and prevention are working,” the mayor said. “Our partnership with behavioral health response through our ‘Cops and Clinicians’ program, Cure Violence, our focused deterrence efforts, all of these things worked hand-in-hand to see a marked decrease in the first eight months since I’ve been mayor.”
“When you’ve got a really volatile scene, and you’ve got people very emotional and very upset, the calming effect that the social workers have in trying to provide services to those families is immeasurable,” Hayden said. “I believe all of it working together is what we call firing on all cylinders. I believe we’re doing that right now.”
The reported homicides in 2021 continue the trend of much higher homicide numbers over the past decade. Police reported 113 in 2012.
2021’S homicide rate adjusted for the city’s shrinking population, which is in danger of falling below 300,000 residents, is down drastically from last year’s rate of 87% per 100,000 residents. Still, at 65%, 2021’s rate is among the five worst in the past 50 years.
“We can’t pass common-sense gun safety laws on the local levels because of this love affair with the 2nd amendment at the Missouri Legislature,” the mayor said. “It only hurts our law enforcement and it hurts our urban areas with the proliferation of guns on our streets because everyone has access to a gun. I lost a family member to gun violence in the Summer.”
Her cousin was killed in Ferguson, outside of the St. Louis city limits.
The police homicide clearance rate rebounded to 55%, according to police, after dropping below 40% the past two years.
The chief, in part, credits moving the gang unit into the homicide division.
“So many of these instances require ‘on the scene intel’ development,” he said. “We have recovered to pre-pandemic numbers and many cities have not.”
“And we’re going to keep going down, prayerfully,” Mayor Jones said.