Zero-tolerance policy returns to Loop following violence, mobs last month

One day after guns were fired on the Delmar Loop two Saturdays ago, the mayors of St. Louis and University City, their respective police chiefs and other city representatives, met with Washington University representation at the Moonrise Hotel to discuss Loop security.

University City and St. Louis Metropolitan police have added patrols to the Loop in an attempt to keep visitors from getting out of hand, while WUPD will increase its own policing of the areas south of the Loop and where students live, freeing up University City police to patrol the Loop.

The increased presences come on the heels of two separate incidents on Saturday, March 31, the first in which 300 youth congregated on the Loop and resulting fights ended in gunshots.

Lehman Walker, city manager of University City, added that University City will be enforcing a zero-tolerance policy, meaning that misbehavior and violation of city ordinances—such as vandalism, theft or peace disturbances—will not be tolerated.

Officials said last month’s incidents are unusual and warrant follow-up.

“I think everything in the Loop really is even-keeled as it always is. One two-hour incident … generates a lot of media buzz, but really is an aberration. It’s an anomaly,” Joe Edwards, the owner of numerous Loop businesses including the Moonrise Hotel, Blueberry Hill and the Pageant, said.

This is not the first time for the Delmar Loop to experience similar problems. Last April a series of changes were proposed to control youth on the Loop after a police officer was injured trying to break up a group of 50 to 100 youth. Other business owners had reported improper behavior, such as stealing forks off of plates and general rowdiness. University City City Hall responded to the complaints by proposing a new ordinance which would impose a strict anti-loitering policy. A stricter curfew was also suggested but never voted on.

At around 8:38 p.m. around Skinker Boulevard and Delmar Boulevard, around 300 youth began getting rowdy and shots were fired, but no one was injured.

In a separate incident a little after 11 p.m. on March 31, a 19-year-old and 17-year-old were hospitalized after being shot outside of Church’s Chicken.

In addition to added patrols, St. Louis police have brought a truck in which people can be held and processed, allowing police to stay on the Loop instead of having to head back to the police station.

University City also plans to install a $160,000 camera surveillance system on the Loop in June.

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