After investigating some of the city’s most recent homicides, police in St. Louis believe they know the trending factor: drugs.
“At the end of the day, with the right information, I could solve them all,” Chief John Hayden said Monday. “But the solvability factor is complicated when I don’t have the right information coming from the public.”
Five of the past six homicides before Monday were drug-related, according to Hayden, and investigators presumed the sixth one to be as well.
Police reached that conclusion after examining evidence from crime scenes, such as money left behind, and witness accounts.
Hayden said police are also hampered when the homicides take place inside buildings.
“If you agree to take a drug deal, police are not going to be there to supervise it,” Hayden said. “What we’ve seen is folks getting involved with drug activity, and taking that risk is costing them their lives, and it’s a challenge to get ahead of that.”
In response to the shootings, Hayden said, the police force is increasing the number of officers in the northern area of what’s become known as Hayden’s rectangle. That’s an area Hayden has targeted for crime-reduction efforts.
The rectangle’s northern and southern borders are West Florissant Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and the western and eastern borders run along Goodfellow Boulevard and Vandeventer Avenue.
St. Louis was at 121 homicides going into Monday, which the chief says is an increase of nine homicides over the same time last year, but two less than the time period in 2017.
The other trend Hayden says authorities have noted in the past week is the number of multiple-shooting incidents.
“We’re trying very hard to get in front of some of the gun violence associated with drug sales, but at the same time we need the public’s help to really make a difference,” Hayden said.
Few witnesses come forward, and the chief says he understands those reservations and fear of retaliation.
However, the chief pointed to resources such as CrimeStoppers, which lets people call in anonymously with information. If the information leads to an arrest, callers can be rewarded.
With the majority of crimes affecting those in the 18-24 age range, Hayden says police will continue to work with groups such as Better Family Life and the Urban League that aim to help youth.
Just minutes after discussing drug-related homicides with reporters at police headquarters, Hayden responded to the scene of the fatal shooting of a child in the 3500 block of North 11th Street.
Police did not release any information about how the child was shot or whether there were any suspects.