ST. LOUIS – More than 100 block parties took place all over St. Louis to try and make the area a safer place.
It’s all part of National Night Out. City leaders said National Night Out is designed to increase awareness of crime and drug prevention. It strengthens neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships and sends a message to criminals.
“Just to let the people know that we’re going to come together as a neighborhood and coordinate and try to alleviate a lot of the crime that’s around St. Louis,” said Dustin Hawkins, who organized a National Night Out block party in Soulard.
The event has taken place for years, bringing people of all ages together to learn about one another.
“I think often kiddos have a certain perspective or certain engrained mindset about what police officers do on a day-to-day scenario,” said Michael Baird, principal of Hickey Elementary, which was also hosting a block party. “And so it’s cool to see the local law enforcement engaging with our kiddos and saying, hey, it’s not only just giving tickets or what have you. We also are here to make sure that we can provide safe spaces for these kinds of events.”
Those involved with National Night Out hope events like this can play a role in combatting crime. Crime is an ongoing issue in the city.
The St. Louis Police Department reported 154 homicides this year. In 2021, the City of St. Louis recorded 148 homicides.
St. Louis police have reported more than 1,500 thefts or attempted thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars so far this year, with 356 coming in the first 13 days of August. That accounts for nearly 77 percent of all vehicles stolen.
“We’re always focused on transforming public safety. And that means making sure that we deploy the right resource to the right call,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones. “To make sure that our officers don’t carry the total weight of the burden of fighting violent crime.”
Jones said they’ve opened the Office of Violence Prevention, which invests in community violence intervention programs using ARPA funds.
Other communities in the St. Louis area also mark National Night Out on Tuesday, including Florissant, Maplewood, and Valley Park.