St. Louis special ops officers re-assigned to combat car break-ins

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 7:46 AM

 (KMOV) – St Louis Police are shuffling officers to combat one kind of rising crime, but some worry it will actually make parts of the city more dangerous.

News 4 learned the Special Operations Unit of the St Louis Police Department has been assigned to working lesser property crimes.

The St. Louis Chief of Police, Sam Dotson told News 4’s Lauren Trager, these special operational units are designed to be moved around to where they are needed.

So the officers’ hours were changed and they were assigned certain sectors of the city to help prevent a rash of smash and grabs News 4 has been tracking this summer.

“What we have is a holistic approach to the city of St. Louis,” said Chief Sam Dotson.

Chief Dotson told News 4 hot spot policing is working in St. Louis.

Violent crimes are down close to 20 percent, but car break-ins have been on the rise. Chief Dotson said those kind of thefts can lead to more serious stuff.

So, he said he’s just using available resources.

“Our special operations people target the hotspots that we have so we don’t have to take officers out of the districts so we can leave officers in the district when people dial 911,” Chief Dotson said.

But not everyone is on board with his plan.

“One neighborhood’s gain is sometimes another neighborhood’s loss,” said 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French.

French worries about taking specialized officers off their usual violent crime details.

“The people who are members of these Special Op units are very skilled, very good at what they do and so to turn them into parking lot attendants, even in the short time I don’t know if that’s the good use of a resource,” said French.

French said they could be using more cameras, not man-power, to monitor parking lots. Chief Dotson said cameras only help solve crimes, not prevent them.

For now, the special ops officers will stay on the lots, until they’re needed elsewhere. 

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