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ST. LOUIS – The city of St. Louis recorded its highest murder rate in decades this past year. In addressing the bloody 2020, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden says there were unique factors in the rise in homicides.

Police say 262 people were murdered in 2020, a 30 percent jump over 2019.

Hayden says COVID created more joblessness, contributing to more despair in hard-pressed communities.

Authorities also had to divert resources away from crimefighting efforts to monitor protests over racial inequality and police violence.

Chief Hayden also blames too many guns on the street.

He says his rectangle plan has only yielded mixed results and that police are trying new measures.

When asked what grade he’d give himself for 2020, Hayden says he’d give himself an “A” for effort in the battle to keep the city safe.