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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

City launches effort to curb killings

Homi625july16 ST. LOUIS — Sitting on the front steps of her home watching her 5-year-old son play in the summer heat, Sheronda Glover had no idea why Academy Avenue suddenly filled with squad cars, police officers and news crews.

Glover, 30, wasn't close enough to hear Police Chief Joe Mokwa announce the department's new initiative designed to reduce homicides in the city, which are on pace to reach the highest yearly total in 13 years.

Told why the chief, top brass, dozens of officers and two mobile command units were stationed outside her house, Glover said she hopes the plan to saturate neighborhoods, including the Academy neighborhood, with patrols and plainclothes officers will make a difference.

"That's a shame that people are getting shot and killed every day," said Glover, a mother of two who has lived in the Academy neighborhood all of her life. "We need to get all of the bad people out of the neighborhood. It should (work). I hope so. It could if they stay on it and if they have people like me calling police when they see things." Police launched the homicide crackdown plan late last week, focusing on neighborhoods where 21 of the city's 89 homicides have occurred this year. Beat officers are working together with drug, gang and juvenile officers to interact more with community members as they try to slow violence, prevent retaliatory killings and dig up tips on unsolved crimes.

"We're going to make sure the good people see us and the bad people feel us," Mokwa said. [Mark Godsey]

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