ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — A woman’s terrifying story is a snapshot of what people in St. Louis City say is a rise in gunfire. Sarah Gilland stayed crouched behind a trash can for nearly three minutes, to dodge gunfire at her bus stop near North Market and Florissant.
“I heard a ‘pow pow’, the gunshots coming from that direction,” said Gilland.
She said the frightful experience happened Wednesday around 5 a.m. on her way to work. Gilland and other nearby residents have noticed an uptick in gunfire recently.
“It’s escalated,” said Gilland.
Data from St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shows they’ve received 119 shots fired calls between February and May 2021 for District 4, which encompasses downtown and the Downtown West neighborhood.
“It was super scary, it’s something that I don’t typically experience on a daily, but I’m getting used to it and sadly it’s something you should never have to get used to,” she continued.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones has a plan in place to addressing the city’s crime rate from a different approach. Dozens of vacant St. Louis police officer positions were eliminated under the Fiscal Year 22 budget. Passed Thursday morning, the budget eliminated 98 vacant positions, leaving over 50 remaining vacancies. No current city police officers will lose their jobs.
“Budgets are moral documents, and previous budgets do not reflect either the shared values or the emerging needs of the most vulnerable St. Louisans. For many years the budget has not supported the needs of the people and that’s why we’re seeing record numbers of homicides and other acts of violence. What we’ve been doing doesn’t work. This revised budget will start St. Louis on a new path to tackling some of the root causes of crime,” said Mayor Jones.
The $4 million reallocation will be distributed to four areas. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund will get $1.5 million, $1 million will go towards Victim Support Services, the Department of Health & Human services will receive $1 million and $500,000 will go towards affirmative litigation.
And this week the city’s public safety director announced the cutting of ballooning overtime for officers to help offset budget cuts. City leaders are now moving to more strategic placement of officers during peak hours of crime.
“I pray for the safety and hope they just buckle down on everything it’s just getting too out of hand,” said Gilland.