Chief Dotson: '1 homicide is too many,' despite 16 killings in January


by Laura Hettiger / News 4

Posted on January 27, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 4:36 AM

ST. LOUIS ( -- On his day off, the newly named police chief in St. Louis sat down with News 4 to discuss the 16 homicides that have happened on city streets since the start of January.

Sam Dotson was candid and poignant in his answers saying “one homicide is too many,” and the goal for his department is to have a year with no killings.

Unfortunately, 2013 will not be that year. In fact, with four days left in the month, this January mirrors the first month of 2010, when 16 other people were killed. Homicides in January went way down in 2011, with just two killings. The department investigated 11 last year. While overall crime was down during the second half of 2012, the chief believes this especially violent month can be credited to two groups targeting each other.

“What we do not have are packs of gangs, roaming the city, targeting innocent people,” Dotson said. “We don't have random shootings.”

Dotson also explains the high number does not exactly tell the full story. Two of the 16 are now being investigated as self defense. Four or five of the slayings could potentially be linked to two groups arguing over a girl.

The chief explained this retaliation mentality is a societal issue not unique to St. Louis.
“What we have is a segment of society that resorts to violence instead of trying to work through their issues,” he said.

Despite the recent uptick in violence, the chief says the high crime rate continues to decrease. Just two weeks ago, Dotson reported that overall crimes were down 12 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.

“It’s been very clear to me that the city has made a significant investment,” Dotson said. “A quarter of a billion dollars every year, year over year to fight these things, so it’s not a lack of resources, it’s not a lack of will.”

Instead, he believes these crimes often spawn from the lack of a structured family life.

“Really, when you get down to it, it comes down to families helping families grow together,” Dotson said. “I would much rather invest in education and Head Start programs than in prison.”