St. Louis police have targeted certain areas of the city in an attempt to reduce criminal activity, especially those involving guns. The initiative, which began in late August, continued throughout the Cardinals’ playoff games and met with surprising success. Mayor Francis Slay indicated some of the gains from playoff home games – estimated at $400,000 per game – would go towards keeping the program alive while the mayor looks for permanent funding for the program. It is continuing to operate on temporary funds.
The Homicide Deterrence Initiative, which is the official name for the program, reduced gun crimes by nearly 70 percent compared to the same time last year, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Certain areas of the city saw a doubling of police night patrol strength.
Gun crimes and violence have been in the news often recently in St. Louis. A dramatic increase in gun crimes in August, 2011 spurred the police initiative for this year. In 2011, a widely publicized shooting brought public attention to gun violence, as a college student bystander was shot during a robbery in the affluent neighborhood of Central West End, prompting calls for more police presence in the city. In 2012, the story was much the same, with gun crimes increasing until the recent police enforcement action in August.
While the police are focusing on certain areas, a recent News 4 investigation revealed that no one place in the city has a monopoly on police enforcement. Arrests are up across the city, including in popular entertainment districts.
Police are using a variety of enforcement methods during the program. Police have searched buildings, stopped pedestrians and pulled over vehicles in an effort to discover illegal activity and contraband. They have Special Operations working undercover and also bike officers out working overtime.
Some Enforcement Methods Excessive?
Police are using increasingly varied methods to apprehend and detain suspected criminals throughout the city. However, there is a line between increased enforcement and a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. For example, in 2011 judges began issuing cash-only, high bail amounts in an attempt to keep anyone arrested on suspected gun crime charges in jail. However, many people, including prominent criminal defense attorneys, argued that unreasonably high bail goes against a suspect’s constitutional presumption of innocence.
While gun crime arrests are up in the city, that does not mean everyone arrested is guilty of a crime. Police must also use legal search and seizure methods when cracking down on crime, or risk having any evidence obtained thrown out of court. If you have been charged with a gun crime, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected in court.