Crime

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.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

It’s been my experience that people are normally murdered for one of two reasons: money or sex. When I share that observation, somebody will invariably suggest that I add narcotics to my short list of prime motives for slaughter. That idea seems reasonable at first but upon further review, it turns out to be redundant.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Let’s begin by acknowledging that the words “legal” and “wise” are not synonyms. It would be legal, for instance, to install aluminum siding on my brick home but that would probably not be a wise course of action. Just because there is no legal barrier to doing something, it does not necessarily follow that it’s a good idea to do so.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

Crime in the parts of St. Louis County covered by the county’s police department dropped 7.4 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to numbers released by the department today.

This is the fifth straight year for a decrease - something St. Louis County Chief of Police Tim Fitch called a "great accomplishment."  The latest figures bring the total level of crime to its lowest point since 1969.

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Check out your neighborhood's crime stats with the interactive map below.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department presented their crime statistics to the city's public safety committee today.  And even though the raw numbers show overall crime was down in 2013 compared to 2012, some aldermen say their residents don't care about the numbers if they don't feel safe.

Robin Hood statue in Nottingham, England
Wikipedia

In America, we celebrate our thugs. They’re entrenched in the popular culture as familiar threads in the social fabric —collectively speaking, an integral part of who we are. After all, who didn’t like Tony Soprano?

Because they exist in the shared imagination as mythical figures, it really doesn’t matter that much whether the thugs are real or fictional. Al Capone and Don Corleone are equally well remembered.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

Updated at 4:30 p.m. with quotes from Chief Sam Dotson and 2013 neighborhood data.

Despite an increase in the number of homicides, crime was down more than 5 percent overall in the city of St. Louis last year.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released its final numbers for 2013 today. Violent crimes — those committed against individuals— were down by more than 10 percent, while property crimes dropped more than 4 percent.

photo of Barack Obama
Pete Souza | White House | 2010 photo

You can be just or you can be merciful but it’s damned hard to be both simultaneously. Barack Obama may have pulled off that difficult trick when he recently commuted the sentences of eight people serving extended time for crack cocaine violations.

Perhaps moved by the holiday spirit, the president exercised his constitutional authority to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States” and released the federally imprisoned octet in time for its members to be home for Christmas.

(St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept.)

After an increase in robberies and burglaries in South St. Louis, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson sent extra forces into three neighborhoods Monday as part of continued hot-spot policing efforts.

"Hot-spot policing is the way we do business," said Dotson. "What it does is takes resources and puts them in neighborhoods that have seen an increase in crime or problems that I'm trying to stem."

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

For Cardinals fans looking to pick up tickets to tonight’s World Series game, St. Louis City Chief of Police Sam Dotson has a simple piece of advice: buyer beware.

There were around 80 instances of phony tickets being sold for Game 3, but he says police were able to cut that number to three for last night’s game.

He says there have also been some issues with phony money.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Law enforcement representatives from more than 25 St. Louis area police departments will gather this Wednesday for a workshop on cyberbullying. 

Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter, Megan, committed suicide in 2006 after being the victim of cyberbullying will lead the workshop. She says the event is unique because in addition to discussing the impact cyberbullying can have on children; as a training exercise officers will also be reinvestigating cases using laws that were passed after her daughter’s death.

(St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept.)

After a series of car break-ins two weeks ago during Loufest, St. Louis Police say they are making crime prevention a priority at this weekend's Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

The event will be monitored by both uniformed and plain clothes officers. They’ll be using technology like cameras, license plate readers, and spike strips.

St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson pointed out that, despite the recent break-ins, crime is down almost 6 percent in St. Louis City in the year, and violent crime is down 18 percent. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Although billed as a “Urban Crime Summit,’’ one of the key crime statistics offered by the four-day event’s host, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, affected rural Missouri as well.

Missouri’s per-capita crime rate is the 9th highest in the nation, Koster said in his opening address at Wednesday’s session, the third day of the Summit – and the first of two days in St. Louis.

(via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Prosecutors in southern Illinois say they're prepared to file murder charges against the uncle of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found near her home in the small town of Watson.

Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says he expects to charge 22-year-old Justin DeRyke on Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of Willow Long. The girl went missing Sunday from her home as her mother napped. Four volunteers searching for Willow found her body Monday night. Watson is just south of Effingham.

Steakpinball | Flickr

Two former St. Louis Parks Division officials have pleaded guilty to embezzling over $400,000 from the Parks Division. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District  of Missouri says Joseph Vacca, former deputy commissioner of the St. Louis Parks Division,  and Thomas Stritzel, former chief of the St. Louis Park Rangers pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the Attorney's office, it was through a system of false invoices that the two men acquired the money and used it for personal expenses including automobile leases, credit card payments and other items.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Dog Days of Summer draw to a close. The Romans so named this time of year because of the celestial ascendancy of Sirius, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Major — the “Large Dog” in the night sky.

(via Flickr/raleighwoman)

Though crime overall continues to drop in the city of St. Louis, the city’s police department remains concerned about an ongoing spike in car break-ins .

Larcenies are up 2 percent across the city compared to last year, driven by a 7.5 percent jump in car break-ins across the same period.

Read the complete crime report here.

(St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept.)

St. Louis City is currently ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in the nation by CQ Press, based on FBI reports of the number of crimes committed in 2011. But according to St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Sam Dotson and University of Missouri-St. Louis criminology professor Richard Rosenfeld, those numbers fail to tell the whole story.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

It’s been a good first six months on the job for St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson when it comes to crime numbers.

Compared to the same period last year, overall crime in the city is down more than 7 percent in the first half of 2013. Crimes against persons, like homicides and assaults, are down 20 percent. And most crimes are trending well below five-year averages, though Dotson says he is concerned about an uptick in burglaries in recent weeks.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated 12:39 p.m.

At a press conference Thursday morning, both local and federal officials gathered to share the results of a coordinated effort to tackle violent crime in St. Louis and East St. Louis.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Attorneys offices in both Southern Illinois and Eastern Missouri, along with state and local law enforcement began the push April 1.

Dubbed the “Violent Crime Reduction Partnership," it used undercover operations and other investigative tools to nab prior felons who continue to possess firearms.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In just under six hours on the night of June 10-11, 17 people were shot on city streets. Another unfortunate was stabbed during the period.

The following day, a senior police commander, Major Joseph Spiess, was ambushed while participating in a crackdown on street violence. Thankfully, he escaped unharmed, which is more than can be said for the police car he was driving.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Many Bosnian residents in south St. Louis City continue to feel unnerved by the murder of Haris Gogic, a 19-year-old convenience store worker who was killed three weeks ago.

Days later a 30-year old 7-Eleven worker, Mon Rai, was shot death.  

President of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, Sadik Kukic, said some members of the community have considering leaving south city in favor of the county or another city all together.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A minister and a civil rights group are credited with pulling together what’s being described as the first city-county effort to focus on addressing crime, building trust and reducing conflict among young people, and improving the quality of life in underserved communities.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Washington University is hosting a conference tomorrow afternoon on public health challenges in the 21st century.

Melissa Jonson-Reid directs Wash U's Brown Center for Violence and Injury Prevention.

She says one challenge the conference will take on is the problem of violence in St. Louis, and the role local public health professionals can play in addressing it.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department says a month of intensive patrols in "hot spots" throughout the city was a major success.

(Photo by Bill Raack/St. Louis Public Radio)

Congressman Lacy Clay of St. Louis says the federal government may soon be able to help local police as they try to combat crime in some parts of the city.

The St. Louis Police Department has recently reassigned some officers to so-called “hot spots” where violent crime continues to be a problem. Clay says there should be announcements in the next few months about combined federal-and-local crime-fighting efforts.

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