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1-on-1 with St. Louis Police Chief on city's falling homicide numbers as violence spikes in Milwaukee

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 19:50:05-04

MILWAUKEE — While cities across the country have seen a rise in violent crime, specifically in homicides, a city similar in size to Milwaukee is seeing the opposite.

The St. Louis Police Department reports their homicides numbers have fallen in back-to-back years.

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St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden speaks to NBC affiliate KSDK during a news conference.

"Our violent crime of numbers are pre-pandemic right now, and at the same time, there's so many other cities that have not returned to pre-pandemic levels,” said St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden.

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St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden speaks with TMJ4 reporter Rebecca Klopf.

The most recent homicide numbers from Milwaukee Police show there are 65 homicides for the city as of April 25. To put that number in perspective, TMJ4 News compared homicides numbers at other similar sized cities.

According to police data, Minneapolis has had 27 homicides so far this year, Cleveland has had 43, St. Louis is at 51, and Baltimore has had 104.

However, St. Louis is the only city that has seen a decrease in homicide rates year after year.

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Homicide Numbers

"We are maintaining a downward trend in homicide reductions,” said Chief Hayden.

St. Louis homicide numbers:
2021: 199
2020: 263
2019: 194
2018: 186

St. Louis has been seeing a drop in homicides since it peaked in 2020 with 263. At that same time, Milwaukee had 189. However, Milwaukee's homicide numbers continue to rise.

Milwaukee homicide numbers:
2021: 193
2020: 189
2019: 98
2018: 99

"We put our gang unit inside of a homicide division, I really believe that that's helping in the way of communication with the community,” said Chief Hayden.

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But the police chief says there is not one thing driving up crime numbers and there is not one approach causing them to fall.

"I think we have a winning combination in the social services. We actually have social worker with riding with our police officers, that is something that I've found to be particularly helpful. Then we also have Cure Violence working with some of the retaliatory issues that we've had in certain neighborhoods over the years,” said Chief Hayden.

The Milwaukee Police Department has similar approaches in place, including some teams of social workers who respond with police officers and 414Life, which is violence interrupter group that is a part of the city's office of violence prevention.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson says he has not specifically been following what's happening in St. Louis when it comes to crime, but he says he plans to get more involved with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.

"I'm of the belief that you don't necessarily need to recreate the wheel if something is working well in another community then let's find a way to adapt it here, especially if it is proven to work well in another community with some of the similar challenges that we face in Milwaukee,” said Johnson.

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