St. Louis curbed violent crime before. Where did we go right?

Tamsen Reed, Brown School graduate student


After another deadly summer, everyone wants answers. Residents demand relief from the violence, and elected officials need programs that work and reflect a commitment to action. Many of the hurried proposals recently put forth reflect growing frustration with policy leaders to address the violence and stem the bloodshed.

Given the national media’s image of St. Louis, it’s easy to believe that it’s always been this way. But the reality is more nuanced, and there may be a diamond of insight hiding within our rough reality. About 15 years ago, the city saw a significant decrease in homicide, by some estimates a reduction of nearly 50% in a two-year period.

The Gun Violence Initiative, housed in Washington University’s Institute for Public Health, spent two years analyzing local efforts to curb gun violence during that period. We examined public and private funding streams and program evaluation reports. We conducted in-depth interviews with pivotal leaders during the period’s drop in crime. The investigation identified several key takeaways of what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Read the full piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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