Downtown shootings raise concerns about understaffed police forc - KMOV.com

Downtown shootings raise concerns about understaffed police force

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) - After two recent shootings in the downtown area, including one where two bystanders were shot and one where a man was fatally shot near the City Museum, News 4 spoke with Police Chief Sam Dotson about what is being done to protect city streets.

"In a city that you call your home, while going to the baseball game,  you have to think of all of the alternatives: What should I do if this happens, or if that happens?" said Kris Ellis, a city resident. "You just have to be prepared for everything."

In both of the downtown shootings, the victims knew the shooter, but since two bystanders were also hit by gunfire, concern has risen among city leaders and visitors to downtown.

"It's a tax base for the city and region. People have to feel comfortable coming to work and play down here," said Jack Coatar, alderman of the city's seventh ward.

Crime rates have increased across the city and violent crime is up 10 percent in the downtown area.

"The right answer is the stay with the model that we have and add up additional officers and continue to focus on the hotspots," Chief Dotson said in the Board of Alderman Public Safety meeting Thursday.

The police department is currently short of 51 officers, positions that Dotson said he is focused on filling.

"One thing I won't do is lower the standards of the police department to put bodies in the seat," Dotson said. "[In the meantime] we are offering overtime to our existing officers to put more officers in those neighborhoods and cars."

Chief Dotson told News 4 a concentrated presence of officers downtown, especially during games and big events will continue .
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