Missouri is a state with diverse regions, cultures, and attractions, but it also faces some serious challenges in terms of crime and violence. Among its cities, one stands out as the most dangerous and deadly: St. Louis. According to an analysis by RoadSnacks, based on the 2014 FBI Uniform Crime Report, St. Louis has the highest number of murders and the highest murder rate per capita in the state, earning it the designation of Missouri’s murder capital.
St. Louis: A Statistical Overview
St. Louis is the second-largest city in Missouri, with a population of around 300,000 residents. Despite its size, it has a long history of violence and homicide, ranking among the top 10 most violent cities in the U.S. for the past decade. In 2014, St. Louis reported 159 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 50.6 per 100,000 people—more than five times the national average and over twice the state average. By contrast, the larger Kansas City recorded 78 murders and a murder rate of 16.7 per 100,000 people in the same year. The city’s alarming trend continued in 2020, where it witnessed a record-breaking 262 murders and a murder rate of 87.2 per 100,000 people—the highest in the city’s history and the nation among cities with over 100,000 residents.
Factors Contributing to St. Louis’s High Murder Rate
St. Louis’s elevated murder rate stems from a complex interplay of factors, including poverty, inequality, segregation, drugs, gangs, guns, and issues within the police force. Some of the key contributors to the city’s violence are:
Poverty: With over 23 percent of residents living below the federal poverty line, St. Louis faces high rates of poverty, associated with lower education, higher unemployment, and limited access to essential services.
Inequality: St. Louis experiences notable income inequality, with a Gini coefficient of 0.54, exceeding the national average of 0.48. This disparity can foster resentment, frustration, and increased exposure to violence.
Segregation: Racial segregation is prevalent in St. Louis, with a dissimilarity index of 0.71, surpassing the national average of 0.59. Segregation can lead to isolation, discrimination, and limited opportunities for different groups.
Drugs: St. Louis contends with a significant drug problem, marked by the prevalence and availability of illicit substances, contributing to health issues and criminal activity.
Gangs: The city faces a substantial gang problem, with various groups engaging in violent activities, exacerbating conflict and criminal behavior.
Guns: St. Louis struggles with a high rate and availability of firearms, legal and illegal, intensifying the risk of injury, death, and homicide.
Police: The city grapples with a strained relationship between the community and the police, characterized by a low number and quality of officers and a lack of trust and cooperation.
St. Louis is a city with a rich past but a challenging present. It has been named the murder capital of Missouri due to its high number and rate of homicides, which are influenced by various social, economic, and political factors. The city needs to address these underlying issues and work together with the community to reduce violence and improve safety. St. Louis has the potential to become a more prosperous and peaceful city, but it will require a lot of effort and collaboration from all stakeholders.