Map Confirms Murder Concentration; City Urges a Look on the Bright Side

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Inspired by last week's New York Times piece, "A Chicago Divided by Killings," Alex Ihnen over at the urban affairs blog NextSTL has produced a map showing where homicides occurred in the city of St. Louis from 2005 to 2012.

The map confirms empirically what is already known anecdotally: That murders in the city are overwhelmingly concentrated in the majority black-and-poor neighborhoods of North St. Louis. That's not an opinion; that's a fact, and a very troubling one that demands more attention.

Of course, Eddie Roth, who recently replaced Sam Dotson as City Hall's director of operations, had quite a different take on NextSTL's map. His point was, in effect: Look on the bright side!


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In the comments section, Roth wrote that many would be surprised to see "how much of the city has an exceedingly low homicide rate."

The rates overall, Roth says, are "damnable," "tragic" and "unacceptably high," but he adds that:

St. Louisans should take heart in knowing, as nextSTL's map reveals, that city neighborhood upon city neighborhood are and always have been safe, that broad measures of violent and property crime show a city that has experienced indisputably steady and dramatic reductions in crime in recent years, and that St. Louis has the potential, and I believe is poised, to experience breakthrough reductions of crime.

(I hope that's true, and not just bluster from City Hall three months before an election.)

Roth said it's crime-mapping like this that enables hot-spot policing, which has shown some success in the city. Crime maps also shape perceptions, according to Roth: 

What, for example, would nextSTL's map and homicide rates look like if displayed homicides were limited to (or excluded) those occurring during late night (or work day or early evening) hours? How would the array and rates appear if they were limited to (or excluded) homicides known to be the product of gang violence, or family or intimate partner violence, or in which there is direct evidence of drug use among all known participants, or in which all known participants had prior criminal convictions, or exclusively involved men between the ages of 18 and 25.

How might such dynamic mapping affect the public's perception of safety and well being and help it organize its own conduct to reduce risks of criminal victimization? How might it inform and affect policy makers' and police and other public safety strategic and tactical approach to law enforcement and crime prevention?

This too is work being undertaken by St. Louis' Public Safety Partnership.
Well good. Those are all maps I would look forward to seeing, as they would surely stir up some helpful discussion, as Ihnen's map has already done.
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14 comments
Joey
Joey

 Let's see: Areas with a high homicide rate have almost half the income and less than half the college graduates. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that this has nothing to do with racism and it's grounded in a "black culture of violence." Yeah, right.

maschwab
maschwab

Total number of homicides?  How about homicides per 100,000 residents per year?

harlanbh
harlanbh

Is there an "acceptable number" of homicide? I'm confused.  

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

just keeping saying "crime happens everywhere" and it will make it true.

Brian Blood
Brian Blood

This is not a crime map (parse). It is a Murder map of the city and its cultural, economic, and financial facts about the Longitude/Latitude of said murders

Casey Govero
Casey Govero

the bright side: St. Louisans should take heart in knowing, as nextSTL's map reveals, that city neighborhood upon city neighborhood are and always have been safe, that broad measures of violent and property crime show a city that has experienced indisputably steady and dramatic reductions in crime in recent years, and that St. Louis has the potential, and I believe is poised, to experience breakthrough reductions of crime.

David Clarke
David Clarke

What exactly is the bright side I am supposed to be seeing?

Prince Carter
Prince Carter

Did I miss something here? whats the bright side help me somebody, I wish they give the numbers of the solved cases?

prince.carter63
prince.carter63

I wish they would give the number of solved cases, did I over-look something I'm looking for the bright side?

Brian Blood
Brian Blood

Everyone points a finger. Its somebody else's fault I killed that person. Put your pride in your pocket and look inward. Here is proof. #truthhurts, #dealwithit.

bbbean
bbbean

This map makes it clear that the most effective means to combat violent crime will be targeted interventions in areas dominated by gangs and poverty, not broad restrictions on law abiding citizens in parts of the city not plagued by these crimes. 

12judges
12judges

Great map.  I salute this work and hope that St. Louis Public Safety Partnership comes out with the additional variations so that we can at last have the empirical proof that by and large, in St. Louis as in other cities, crime and violence are due to cultural factors, economics, and products of bad decision making in general.  What I find more fascinating is how empirical data continues to push the undeniable influence of race into this debate.  Why is it that african-americans are 3-4 times more likely to kill each other than almost any other demographic?  Despite all the talk why is it no concrete long-term actions have been taken by black leadership in this country to deal decisively with this issue?  Why does a distinct and unmistakable culture of violence exist as a sub-culture in black communities?  These are very important questions that require a lot of soul searching from the black community and no one nor the government can answer them.  Just look at the map and the data.  You can't blame racism.  Whites, asians and latinos aren't killing young black man in the tens and hundreds.  Everyone freaks out when a mass shooting occurs while they completely miss and ignore the mass murder of thousands of blacks by other blacks in this country every year.  It isn't guns that are doing it either.  The map makes it very clear there is something much much deeper at work here.

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