St. Louis Homicides Drop 20 Percent Thanks to Slow 4th Quarter

114 people were murdered in St. Louis in 2011, the fewest in six years.
114 people were murdered in St. Louis in 2011, the fewest in six years.
St. Louis had 21 percent fewer homicides in 2011 compared to 2010, according to preliminary crime figures from the police department.

That's great news, though it isn't the first time in recent history that the city's murder rate has plunged inexplicably. The early 2000s saw a huge drop in homicides, from 148 murders in 2001 to 113 in 2002 followed by an even bigger drop in 2003 when the official death toll only hit 69 -- the lowest since 1962. Since then the number of murders have rebounded to well above 100 annual homicides.   

Last year was somewhat strange, though, because until November it seemed St. Louis was on pace to see around the same number of murders in 2011 that it did in both 2010 (144) and 2009 (143).

As we reported in the fall, the homicides numbers on October 27, 2011, pulled into an exact tie with the murder clip from 2010 with 103 deaths by the same date each year. But where the murder rate actually doubled its clip in the last two months of 2010 to arrive at 144 homicides, the killings in 2011 decreased by about half their annual rate in November and December to arrive at the unofficial number released this week of 114.

The reason for the downturn? I'm sure the cops will credit better policing, and perhaps that has something to do with it. Could be, too, that this was just a down year. No rhyme or reason.

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