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Analysis of Homicides in St. Louis Essay

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Updated: May 6th, 2020

Introduction

The history of violence dates back to the earliest periods of development of human society. Homicides, as an ultimate expression of violence, have accompanied the human community throughout its long history. As the society was developing, its members accused of intentional killing of people became condemned, and certain penalties were designed to punish the murderers. The shift in perception of homicides as a normal display of strength to treating them as violent crimes were related to the formation of morality and ethics.

The cultural and religious development also contributed to this process. Pinker illustrates the tendencies of decline in homicide rates worldwide throughout the history with appropriate data: 4-100 homicides “per 100.000 people in Middle Ages” are contrasted to 0.8 homicides “per 100.000 people in the 1950s” (55). The United States faced a dramatic decline in homicides at the end of the twentieth century, particularly in the 1990s (Zimring 3).

The long-term tendency of decreasing homicide rates in the US was indicated by all official institutions. However, some of the latest events have put a threat to positive statistics in homicide rates in the United States. One of these events is the significant rise in murders in St. Louis last year.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has released the report presenting the statistics proving that murders in the city are nearly sixty percent up from the same time last year (91). The rising number of homicides in the neighborhoods of St. Louis appears to be particularly troubling and needs to be addressed by official institutions to prevent more murders.

Thesis

The latest events in St. Louis should be carefully analyzed to determine the causes of troubling statistics and define the possible ways of dealing with the problem.

Some specialists find a direct relationship between the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the rising rates of homicides in some cities in the United States. The analysis of the identified relation can help to determine the lessons that can be learned from the current event.

One of the interpretations of the relation between these two events states that the shooting of Michael Brown and further criticism of police caused the Ferguson effect motivating police officers to avoid interaction with citizens and, therefore, could lead to dropping number of arrests.

Another interpretation claims that events in Ferguson could prevent common people from addressing police because of the reducing level of trust put in their work and loss of respect to them. Such a tendency could result in the unwillingness of people to inform police about witnessed illegal actions and cause rising rates of criminality.

Gang violence is considered another possible cause of rising rates of murders in St. Louis. Any disruption in the local market of drugs can become a reason for conflicts between local drug dealers. Such conflicts can provoke more violence and murders, as gang wars often lead to elevated rates of violence in local communities.

The prevalence of guns is another factor that could cause the discussed events and, therefore, should be considered while determining the lessons and solutions for the problem. Possession of a weapon is related to gun-related deaths, so the abundance of guns can cause more homicides.

Detailed analysis of all of the factors mentioned above should be conducted to identify the causes of the event, the lessons we should learn from it, and the actions we can take to avoid further worsening of the situation. Investigation of the possible influence of Ferguson effect, gang violence, the prevalence of guns, and other factors helps to determine the causes of rising rates of murders in St. Louis and reveals the effective ways of dealing with the problem.

Main Points

The analysis of the factors that could have had the potential impact on the rates of homicides in St. Louis should be based on assessing the relevance of these factors.

Claiming that raising rates of murders can be explained by the fact that police are “scared to do their jobs as a result of criticism” does not appear to be relevant. However, the factor of lack of cooperation between citizens and police caused by the Ferguson effect seems to be rather influential, as community cooperation directly affects the opportunity to incarcerate repeat offenders before they commit another crime.

Lack of such cooperation stimulates the criminals to think that they can get away with things, and make the common people think they should deal with conflicts on their own. Therefore, the first lesson we can learn from the discussed event is the high necessity to repair the relationships between the police and the communities. Putting the effort in stimulating cooperation between the police and the citizens is one of the ways to prevent the further worsening of the criminal situation in St. Louis.

The factor related to gang violence also appears to be well-grounded, as gang wars directly affect the levels of local criminality. This factor can explain the difference between the levels of homicides in different American cities, as a tense situation in local gangs influences only the criminality of a particular city or region.

Therefore, the second lesson we can learn from the discussed event is the necessity to pay more attention to controlling the relationships between the gangs and put much effort in the prevention of the escalation of the conflicts. Focusing on preventive methods for stopping gang violence is another way to avoid further worsening of the criminal situation in St. Louis.

The prevalence of guns can also be considered an influential factor as it is directly related to gun-related deaths. Therefore, the third lesson we can learn from the discussed event is the necessity to control the distribution of weapons and raise the consciousness of the population about the responsibility related to storing the guns.

Carrying of guns by those categories of the population that are highly susceptible to committing crimes should be strictly regulated or even forbidden in particular cases. Such a method can contribute to improving the criminal situation in St. Louis.

Opinion

In my opinion, the factors discussed above can be considered as the main contributors to the current situation in St. Louis related to high rates of homicides. However, I think that the notion that “the rise in murders could be a temporary blip in the data” expressed by some criminologists also can be regarded as a relevant explanation of the situation in the city (Lopez par. 22). Some local events could cause a rise in the number of homicides.

Besides, when the data about the murders is analyzed in local terms, it takes just a relatively small number of homicides to cause significant changes in statistics. If the overall number of murders is not very high, small changes can lead to a statistically significant difference. Therefore, the situation in St. Louis can be viewed as exaggerated due to the specifics of statistics. Long-time trends should be considered to make serious conclusions about severe changes in the criminal situation in the particular city

I think the prevalence of guns is one of the main factors that should be addressed to lower the homicide incidence. This step should be connected with controlling the group of population with criminal records, as this category of citizens is the most susceptible to committing crimes, including murders (Cook, Ludwig, and Braga 598).

In my opinion, it is of vital importance to pay the necessary attention to correctional programs and bans on firearm possession targeted toward the category of the population, which appears to be the potential participants of homicides.

Conclusion

The analysis of different factors influencing the rates of homicides helps to understand the possible causes of the current situation in St. Louis. The lessons we can learn from this situation are directly related to the methods that can be used to reduce the negative tendencies of the last year.

The most important lessons include the high necessity to improve the relationships between the police and the communities and stimulate their cooperation, the necessity to control the relationships between the gangs and prevent the escalation of conflicts, and the necessity to control the distribution of weapons.

The methods that can be employed to change the current situation are based on the discussed lessons and include stimulating cooperation between the police and the community, using preventive methods for stopping gang violence, and providing appropriate control over the carrying of guns by those people who are highly susceptible to committing crimes. Besides, restriction to possess firearms by the category of the population having criminal records can also contribute to successful dealing with current problems.

Analysis of the potential impact of Ferguson effect, gang violence, the prevalence of guns, and other factors is of vital importance for determining the causes of warning statistics on homicides in St. Louis and finding effective solutions for the problem.

Possible Future Changes

Future positive changes can be provided if the causes of the problem are eliminated, and effective preventive methods are employed. The innovations should be provided in different areas of social life to ensure the comprehensive changes able to reduce the levels of homicide incidence.

The activities that can eliminate the risks of homicides include educating society about methods of prevention and precautions that can help to define the potential murderer and address appropriate institutions in time. Therefore, future changes should include promoting good relationships between population and official institutions involved in dealing with criminals.

Activities that promote a high level of trust in police are able to cause positive changes in community attitude to police officers and motivate citizens to put much effort into cooperating with them, as such strategy can help to define and prevent potential criminals from committing crimes.

Future changes should also include the improvements in police officers’ ability to control social groups that are susceptible to committing crimes, such as members of gangs, citizens with criminal records, and people with serious psychological problems able to stimulate them to harm others.

Maintaining records of such categories of the population and conducting effective surveillance of their actions should be one of the primary duties of police, as prevention is the key to avoiding homicides. The right to ban carrying firearms by certain categories of the population should be given to police officers.

An only comprehensive approach to reducing the rates of homicides can help the society to win the struggle against criminality in St. Louis and other American cities.

Works Cited

Cook, Philipp, Jens Ludwig, and Anthony Braga. “Criminal Records of Homicide Offenders.” 294.5 (2005): 598-601. Print.

Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, New York: Penguin Books, 2011. Print.

Lopez, German. . 2015. Web.

. Report: CRM0013-BY. Part 1. Crime Comparison Based on UCR Reporting Neighborhood Report. 2015. Web.

Zimring, Franklin. The Great American Crime Decline, New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2007. Print.

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