State Troopers Aid St. Louis Police With Highway Shooting Surge As New Mayor Wants To ‘Reimagine Public Safety’

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The Missouri Highway Patrol will send state troopers to help St. Louis police officers manage a stretch of road that has seen an inordinate amount of shootings over the past year.

At least 11 people have been shot along a stretch of I-70 in St. Louis over the last year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The city’s murder rate skyrocketed in 2020, although its new mayor wants to cut police spending.

The state troopers will focus on weekend enforcement between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 8 p.m. and midnight on Sundays, according to St. Louis Police Commissioner John Hayden. Solving highway shootings can be particularly difficult because “the victims don’t see who was shooting at them, and when any ballistic evidence is potentially scattered on the highway or in the car from which the shots were fired,” Hayden said.

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI – OCTOBER 15: U.S. Attorney General William Barr, left, is introduced to members of the St. Louis Police Department by police chief John Hayden, second from left, during a round table discussion on Operation Legend on October 15, 2020 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Roberson – Pool/Getty Images)

262 people were the victims of homicide in St. Louis in 2020, breaking a city record. The youngest victim was only six years old. (RELATED: Retired St. Louis Police Captain Found Shot Dead Outside Looted Store)

Democratic St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones ran on a platform of “reenvision[ing] or reimagin[ing] public safety.”

“The current system is not working, and you know, calls to ‘defund the police’ echo through every American city following the tragic deaths of Brianna Taylor and George Floyd and many others,” she told St. Louis Public Radio in February. “And to me, defunding the police is about restructuring our public safety budget, and putting the public back in public safety and investing in the things that actually keep us safe. It’s not abolishing the police.”

In her first budget as mayor, Jones proposed closing The Workhouse, a city jail, and eliminating 90 public safety positions, KSDK reported.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has come under fire for her handling of violent crime. At the height of the George Floyd protests and riots, she allowed every rioter arrested by St. Louis police to be released.

“Law enforcement officers risk their lives to go out and make these arrests only to find out that the circuit attorney is allowing every single one of them back on the street within 24 hours,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said at the time.