St. Louis officials tell different story of downtown crime rates


by Craig Cheatham / News 4

Posted on November 14, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 14 at 7:20 PM

 (KMOV) – There’s a dramatic rise in murders and rapes in the downtown St. Louis neighborhood but St. Louis City Police insist that doesn’t tell the whole story.

During the last ten months, the downtown neighborhood has seen a dramatic increase in murders and rapes. So far this year, four murders, the same number as the previous three years combined. And, 16 rapes, second highest among the city’s 88 neighborhoods, and on pace to surpass the 17 rapes that occurred during the previous two years combined.

“Now we have a crime rate that is out of control,” said State Senator Jamilah Nasheed who represents the downtown area.

Senator Nasheed insists that elected leaders, the business community and police will respond to the challenge.

Now we control the police department after 150 years, so the buck will stop at the mayor’s office because he controls the police department and i think he’s going to do a fine job,” said Senator Nasheed.

Mayor Francis Slay asked “can you give me an idea of why that’s happening? I don’t want to speculate at this point.

He insisted he didn’t know enough about it to respond when News 4 interviewed him early Thursday afternoon, so he referred Craig Cheatham to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, who downplayed the rise in murders.

“So, there were four incidences that happened in the downtown neighborhood. This year throughout the city, we have far fewer homicides this year compared to last year. You always have to look at the totality. If there was a symptom in the fourth district, we would be addressing it. There were four instances, not related at all, and in all four cases, the victims new their attackers,” said Dotson.

Chief Dotson said law enforcement is using a different definition of rape, and that explains why the city overall is reporting more rapes.

But two of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods, Jeff Vanderlou and Wells Goodfellow, often had among the highest numbers of rapes in the city. This year, both Jeff Vanderlou and Wells Goodfellow are on pace to have fewer rapes, even though there’s a wider definition for the crime.