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City Police Department Deploying Extra Resources To College Hill Neighborhood

Adam Allington
St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 Thursday, Feb. 7 with arrest numbers.

The St. Louis Police Department is deploying 80 extra officers and resources to north city’s College Hill neighborhood.

The area, which borders O’Fallon Park to the west and Interstate 70 to the north, has been the site of a number of shootings recently, including three murders.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the department is used to this kind of “hot-spot policing,” and says the tactic has been used to great effect in other parts of the city.

“What you’ve seen today is the SWAT unit, the rapid deployment unit, the problem properties unit, the community outreach officers, the traffic safety division,” says Dotson,  “all of those resources are targeted in this neighborhood to make sure that the violence stops.”

Dotson says the move does not mean police are being taken out of other neighborhoods elsewhere in the city.

“Hot-spot policing is the way that we do business,” notes Dotson.  “What it does is it takes these specialized units, the SWAT unit, which is not normally tasked in a district, the rapid-deployment unit, which is not normally tasked in a district, and puts them in our hot spots.  So, the rest of the city continues to see the same amount of police coverage they would on a normal Wednesday.”

Dotson says he believes the uptick in violence is related to a feud between several individuals, but is not specifically gang-related. 

He says officers are going door to door passing out flyers for the department’s anonymous-tip hotline.  The city’s CrimeStoppers program is also offering cash rewards for information which leads to arrests.

21st Ward Alderman Antonio French says residents are living in fear and welcome the additional police presence. 

“That memorial over there, of teddy bears and flowers, on that field, that is where the first homicide happened Friday night, says French, pointing to a vacant lot on the other side of De Soto Avenue.  “Then, the next morning, 8AM, I’m back over here at another homicide scene.”

All told the department is deploying some 80 additional officers to the neighborhood, as well as undercover police and a mobile command center.

The department says the extra patrols led to 11 arrests, and the confiscation of 2 guns. Most of the arrests were for probation or parole violations, or drug possession.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aalllington