City crime up in most categories; police focus on crime preventi - KMOV.com

City crime up in most categories; police focus on crime prevention moving forward

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St. Louis police investigate a shooting. St. Louis police investigate a shooting.
A victim is transported by ambulance after being shot in St. Louis's Baden neighborhood on April 20. A victim is transported by ambulance after being shot in St. Louis's Baden neighborhood on April 20.
The crime report release by police details statistics for each category of crime, comparing 2015 to 2014. The crime report release by police details statistics for each category of crime, comparing 2015 to 2014.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A crime report released May 5 by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department detailed the latest crime rates for the city, revealing dramatic increases in all but two categories of crime compared to the same time period in 2014.

The Board of Aldermen Public Safety meeting was held in St. Louis on Thursday, where Police Chief Sam Dotson addressed the board and the media on the recent spike in crime and the report's statistics.

There have been 60 homicides in the city since the first of January. In the month of April alone, there were 20 homicides. Police said they have arrested a suspect or suspects in 19 of the 60 homicide cases.

Authorities said the number of homicides at this point in the year have doubled in the past two years.

The crime report also revealed an increase in crimes across the board:

  • Homicides increased by 25%
  • Robbery increased by 42%
  • Assault increased by 15.4%
  • Assault with a gun increased by 39.1%
  • Burglary, larceny and car thefts increased by a combined 16.6%

The only decreases in crime were seen in the categories of rape and arson, down by 4.4 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively.

Some of the crime-related concerns addressed in Thursday's meeting included the high rate of violent crime, the use of stolen weapons, judges issuing probation instead of jail time for violent offenders and an understaffed police force.

Officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis Fire Department members, Aldermen, Mayor Frances Slay and members of the media and the public were all in attendance at the meeting.

"I'm disappointed, discouraged," Chief Dotson said on the amount of violence and crime. Dotson also noted, however, that high violence rates are not a "St. Louis specific phenomenon" and Chicago is experiencing similar crime statistics.

The most dramatic increase in crime is the 70 percent rise in guns stolen so far in 2015. Chief Dotson believes thieves are using stolen guns to commit violent crimes.

At the start of the Cardinals baseball season, Chief Dotson warned citizens not to bring their weapons downtown or to store them in their vehicles during baseball games, to prevent criminals for getting their hands on weapons.

"We've seen far too often this year that criminals break into cars looking exactly for your gun that you cannot take into the venue. You certainly can't get through the metal detector with it. Don't leave it in your car," Dotson said in April.

In order to fight the rising crime rate, city residents and Aldermen have called on Chief Dotson to add officers to the police force.

Alderwoman Donna Baringer of St. Louis Hills recently proposed a plan to raise taxes and fees in order to add 160 additional officers to the force, which currently has over 1,300 officers.

Both Mayor Slay and Chief Dotson have spoken in support of hiring additional officers, but Dotson noted challenges with making the idea a reality.

In order to hire 160 new officers, Dotson said it would cost $17 million and take at least 18 to 24 months until the new officers would be ready.

Another way the police force is fighting gun violence is the Real Time Crime Center, outfitted with more than 400 cameras to allow police to better monitor neighborhoods across the city.

Authorities have encouraged residents to take ownership in their neighborhood, using The Neighborhood Ownership Model. Police said the model is active in about 35 of the city's nearly 90 neighborhoods.

"Engaging citizens is crucial in fighting and preventing crime," said a tweet by the St. Louis Police Department.

In the Public Safety meeting, Dotson said the vast majority of crimes in the city of St. Louis are committed by young people.

Another roadblock in the journey to a safer St. Louis Dotson acknowledged is judges giving gun offenders what Chief Dotson called "paper," or probation, instead of jail time.

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