Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – St. Louis Police officers met Wednesday night with concerned residents who packed into a small room where the Tower Grove South Neighborhood Association Safety Committee meets on a regular basis.

Concerned south St. Louis residents packed into a small meeting room at the Gelateria Del Leone on S. Grand Wednesday night to hear from St. Louis police what's being done about a recent rash of hold-ups and other crimes.

(KMOX/Brett Blume)

It was in response to a recent rash of crimes in the Tower Grove neighborhood, including the armed hold-up of a couple who were getting their children out of their car early Wednesday morning in the 3700 block of Wyoming – not far from where the safety meeting was held.

“I think there is a need for more officers,” concluded Stephen Gregali, President of the Tower Grove South Neighborhood Association Safety Committee and former St. Louis Alderman. “They need to patrol some of these areas, especially when crime hits like this.”

But he said the recent outbreak was just part of a bigger picture when it comes to fighting crime.

“I think the Governor, the Mayor, the (police) chief, and the prosecutor really need to be banging on the feds to help investigate where these illegal guns are coming from,” according to Gregali.

Another one-time city alderman-turned-safety watch block captain, Jennifer Florida, said the main problem is an age-old one in St. Louis.

“The problem the city has is we don’t have enough police officers,” Florida said. “It’s not like you can dispatch a bunch of police officers, either, so that’s tricky.”

St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson recently confirmed to KMOX News that despite last week’s graduation of 27 new officers from the police academy, St. Louis is still 100¬†officers short of full authorized capacity of 1,300.

But Florida pointed out that police are also encouraging south city residents to help combat crime by doing things like keeping their trees and foliage trimmed back so street lights illuminate more of the surrounding area. Also keeping their porch lights on.

She also foresees improved conditions in the near future.

“The business district is working very closely (with police), and has been for many years, so they have cameras that are live now at the Real Time Crime Center,” Florida pointed out. “And we’re working on LPR, the License Plate Recognition system, so that technology will really accelerate the ability of police to solve crimes.”

In the meantime, city police officials on hand for Wednesday night’s public safety meeting told the group that they have a “large contigent” of undercover officers “scouring” the area for the suspect in the Wyoming hold-up, who may be responsible for at least one other recent crime as well.

They also said the south St. Louis robbery spree is the department’s current number one priority.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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