Crime

Paul Sabelman | Flickr

In March 2014, Rose Marie Hewitt was pulled over in St. Louis, where she lived at the time. Police found Vicodin in an unmarked bottle — narcotics Hewitt says she was holding for her boyfriend at the time to keep him from taking too many.

Police charged her with two counts of drug possession. "And that's a felony," she said.

Hewitt originally wanted to take her case to trial. But her lawyer told her that would probably result in two years of probation and a criminal record. Instead, she took a chance on the circuit attorney's Felony Redirect Program.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

St. Louis aldermen used a meeting of the city's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday to blast the crime-fighting policies of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson.

"It is important that we make a distinction between criticism of the chief and the leadership and criticism of the officers on the streets," said Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward, and the vice chairman of the public safety committee. "Officers on the streets are just as frustrated. They can't say it publicly, but we hear it as aldermen."

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

There were few surprises in the 2015 crime numbers.

Three neighborhoods – Jeff/Vander/Lou, The Greater Ville, and Wells-Goodfellow – accounted for nearly a quarter of the city’s 188 homicides. In 2014, Wells-Goodfellow topped the homicide count at 14, though Dutchtown, on the city’s southeast side, was second that year with eight.

Though homicides were down in Dutchtown in 2015, it saw 122 people shot – more than any other neighborhood.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay discuss the 2015 crime numbers on Monday, Jan 11, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Crime in the city of St. Louis went up from 2014 to 2015, driven by a nearly 8 percent spike in crimes against persons.

"One hundred and eighty-eight people lost their lives to senseless and destructive violence the city of St. Louis in the past year," said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. "Overall crime was up 2 percent over the previous year. None of these deaths were warranted, and neither of those numbers are acceptable."

Protesters outside St. Louis County headquarters on Feb. 2, 2015 call for reforms of the municipal court system.
File photo by Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014, there was a flurry of activity surrounding police and municipal court reform, as a well as public safety. Those efforts spilled over into 2015, which saw some changes come to St. Louis and St. Louis County.

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” we discussed the year’s biggest public safety, courts and police news with St. Louis Public Radio reporter Rachel Lippmann, who has been covering these issues for several years.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Mathematical algorithms power almost everything these days, from trades on the New York Stock Exchange to your Facebook feed. Now, the St. Louis County police department is betting it can reduce crime by using something called predictive policing.

Crime plan neighborhoods December 2015
Screen capture

Shortly before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen started to debate the city’s portion of a financial package for a new National Football League stadium, Alderman Antonio French, D-21st Ward and Mayor Francis Slay tweeted about a new comprehensive crime plan.

Though crime and the Rams are not logically connected, they have been linked. As St. Louis Public Radio reported last week, Alderman French voted to send the financing bill out of committee after an amendment was attached that provided a multi-faceted minority inclusion plan. And he said, "I am taking the mayor’s chief of staff at her word that we will complete our negotiations on a comprehensive [crime] plan before the final vote," French said.

We Must Stop Killing Each Other signs are posted on the security gate of a building near where Mansur Ball-Bey was shot by police.
Linda Lockhart I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is nearly ready to be awarded a nearly $1 million, three-year violence prevention grant for the near north side. To receive the money, the Board of Aldermen just have to approve the measure.  

The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice totals $999,858.60 and is known as the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. It focuses on a neighborhood with a “concentration of crime hot spots.” The proposal under consideration by the Board of Aldermen targets Carr Square and Columbus Square, which have seen four homicides in the past two years, according to police data.

(via Flickr/kcds)

The Missouri Supreme Court is considering whether a gun rights constitutional amendment passed last year cancels out an older state law that bars convicted felons from owning firearms.

The high court heard three cases Tuesday in which lower courts dismissed felony gun possession charges based on the new amendment, which makes gun ownership an "unalienable right" that the state is obligated to defend.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

St. Louis police confirmed the city's 160th homicide earlier this week, a number that surpasses last year's murder total. 

Davion Thompson, 14, clocks the speed of cars passing the intersection of Gasconade Street and Compton Avenue Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 during Trailnet's traffic calming demo.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Brightly-colored tires simulating flower beds popped-up along a two-block stretch of Gasconade Street Saturday in the Dutchtown neighborhood of south St. Louis.

Bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Trailnet set the tires up to block the corners of intersections leading up to Marquette Park, shortening the distance people crossing the road were exposed to traffic. Other tires formed a zig-zag route for drivers to navigate.

Relations between St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Reed have improved a bit since they ran against each other in 2013.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has announced a new commission to help him implement his anti-crime strategy.

The mayor wants the Commission on Violent Crime to be operational by the end of the year, though many of the details, including who the members of the commission will be, are unclear. He unveiled the plans to revive the commission on his website on Thursday:

Mayor Francis Slay, left, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson unveil the new Real Time Crime Center at police headquarters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Mayor Francis Slay will join his counterparts from dozens of American cities in Washington, D.C. this week for the attorney general's summit on violent crime.

His trip comes as the city continues to battle an increase in crime. The latest numbers show crime is 10 percent higher in 2015 compared to the same time last year, though the increase has slowed down each month this year. St. Louis is on pace for about 200 homicides, a barrier it hasn't broken in nearly 20 years.

Mayor Francis Slay, along with officials from his administration and non-profit partners, announces new resources targeted at inmates awaiting trial at the Medium Security Institution on Sept. 8, 2015.
Nassim Benchaabane | St. Louis Public Radio

The city of St. Louis is hoping a new program targeting young offenders who are awaiting trial will help get the rising crime rate under control.

Mayor Francis Slay, along with other members of his administration and representatives of social services agencies, gathered outside the city's Medium Security Institution Tuesday morning to launch "From Prison to Prosperity." It's designed to help inmates between the ages of 17 and 24 who are awaiting trial at the MSI -- the first program meant for those who have not yet gone to prison.

Rick Rosenfeld and Sam Dotson
Alex Heuer

This week’s shooting of a police officer in the Central West End underscores the fact that crime continues to be a big problem in the area.

As of July 14, St. Louis City’s homicide rate is on pace to exceed the number of homicides in 2014.

Sam Dotson and officers listen to James Clark before a hotspot patrol in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Crime in the city of St. Louis continues to be higher in 2015 compared to the numbers from last year.

Statistics released Tuesday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police show crime was up nearly 14 percent overall in the first six months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, though the rate of increase has slowed each month. Every category of crime except rape and arson was up by double digits.

St. Louis Regional Chamber president Joe Reagan discusses the new 'Take Pride in St. Louis' campaign.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

A new media campaign launched by the nonprofit St. Louis Civic Pride Foundation on Thursday is encouraging St. Louisans to tell their "positive and authentic" stories about the region on social media.

The "Take Pride in St. Louis" campaign features a website where people can share their stories, as well as broadcast and print ads of St. Louis celebrities like Bob Costas, Joe Buck and Jackie Joyner-Kersee extolling the region's virtues.

Left, Terance Irons, a former participant in the dual jurisdiction program; Middle, Sarah Johnson, Assistant Public Defender for Missouri; Right, Judge Jack Garvey, Division 17, 22nd Missouri Circuit Court.
Alex Heuer

Juvenile offenders certified as adults would normally go to an adult prison facility. But in 1995, a program was created in Missouri to change the trajectory of those offenders.

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce on SLOTA June 3
Alex Heuer/St. Louis Public Radio

Circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce has been in the news quite a bit recently. Her decision not to charge a St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer in the shooting death of VonDerritt Myers sparked protests at her house, which led to multiple arrests, and internal investigations into the way police officers handled the incident.

Looking for the estranged husband. (Digital print, 2015) Sarah-Marie Land
Sarah-Marie Land

Artist Sarah-Marie Land is working to bridge the gap between the banality of daily life and the sometimes disturbing events that take place around us.  

“It’s important for individuals to see a different documentation of crime in our city. It really helps you think about your environment differently,” said Land. 

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers raise their weapons at a preshift meeting 3.23.15
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Funding to put additional police on the St. Louis streets likely won't go to voters until November.

The city's public safety committee took more than three hours of testimony Wednesday on the measures that set up the funding mechanisms for the new officers. But in the end, lawmakers took no action, which likely scuttles the hope of Mayor Francis Slay to ask voters for their approval in August.

Mayor Francis Slay and chief Sam Dotson at a press conference on January 15, 2015, discussing six homicides in 13 hours.
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Updated at 1:35 p.m. Friday with additional information about the crimes.

A spate of violence in St. Louis overnight Wednesday left six people dead in five unrelated incidents.

"This is a big black eye on our city," a somber Mayor Francis Slay said at a press conference Thursday evening. "I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the families of these victims. This is something that we're not proud of." 

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

Updated with comments from police chief Sam Dotson and circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce.

Even though overall crime continued its downward trend in St. Louis, 2014 was a violent year in the city, with 159 people killed. 

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on Jan. 7, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has an image problem that Ferguson either brought to light or didn’t help, depending on your perspective. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said addressing those image issues will take a lot of work.

Homicides reported in the City of St. Louis, according to Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, by year. The 2014 year-to-date number is as of 10/27/2014.
Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics / FBI

In 2013, the city of St. Louis recorded 120 homicides. The city’s 148th homicide of 2014 occurred Tuesday night.

That’s nearly a 25 percent year-over-year increase, and is a problem that needs to be investigated, said Richard “Rick” Rosenfeld, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and former president of the American Society of Criminology.

Rosenfeld doesn’t buy into the “Ferguson effect” — the notion that crime increased after the August shooting death of an 18-year-old man by a police officer in Ferguson, at least not in homicide numbers.

City of Pine Lawn website

Updated with a copy of the indictment and additional information.

The mayor of a small North County municipality has been arrested on federal extortion charges.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation took Sylvester Caldwell into custody on Thursday. He'll be arraigned on a single count of interference with commerce by extortion on Monday. 

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

Illinois voters will consider this November whether to amend the state constitution over rights for crime victims.

Victims already have certain rights, including: to be told about court dates, to attend trials and to give impact statements.

But some advocates believe a constitutional amendment is needed to better protect these rights.

St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Like many cities around the country, St. Louis is dealing with the ongoing problem of urban crime. Just over half-way through the year, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says overall crime is down over 11 percent, and violent crime is down almost 6 percent. Overall crime in the city is down almost 50 percent since 2006.

“We have many fewer crimes now than we did just five years ago,” Dotson said Wednesday. With one noticeable exception.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated on April 29th to clarify that the data released by the circuit court dealt only with the speed of getting gun possession cases to final disposition.

St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson says a big uptick in homicides in 2014 is "concerning and alarming."

The chief spoke to the Board of Aldermen's public safety committee on Thursday to discuss the latest crime statistics. There have been 44 murders since the beginning of the year. That compares to 30 people by this time in 2013. 

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Legislature is considering a proposal to provide state funds for neighborhood watch programs in high crime areas around the state.

Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, sponsored the bill, which would create a state fund to match money for neighborhood watch programs in high crime areas around the state.

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