Sam Dotson

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people who produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed public outcry about public safety in St. Louis, the NGA announcement and the Illinois budget situation after Illinois’ spring legislative session closed on Tuesday.

Here’s who joined us:

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Aldermen in charge of St. Louis' budget heard more requests Wednesday from department officials who say they can't do the jobs they should without additional staffing.

Representatives of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the circuit attorney's office and recorder of deeds Sharon Carpenter all asked members of the Ways and Means Committee to find the money for additional positions. The St. Louis Fire Department made a similar request last week.

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."

Blues musician Bobby Rush, museum leaders and Mayor Francis Slay celebrate the opening of the National Blues Museum on Saturday, April 2, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

It was just a couple of weeks ago that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay unequivocally told this reporter that he would run for a historic fifth term.

Now, the Democratic official has changed course and won’t be running for another four years in office. And that means next year’s mayoral contest could be a free-for-all of epic proportions.

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

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department likely won't be wearing body cameras until sometime next year.

A 90-day pilot program with about 70 sergeants wraps up next week, St. Louis Chief Sam Dotson told the city's public safety committee on Thursday. He'll then get feedback from the officers involved and the public, and decide whether to sit down and negotiate a camera policy with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association.

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."

August 2014 St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The organization representing African American officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department says it has lost confidence in chief Sam Dotson.

"We are tired," said Ethical Society of Police president Sgt. Heather Taylor, at a Tuesday press conference. "We're exhausted with some of the internal practices under chief Sam Dotson. We feel undervalued as officers."

St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson briefs reporters on his department's plans for the 2015 Major League Baseball playoffs on October 8, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police will have extra personnel in downtown this weekend as the St. Louis Cardinals begin postseason play — a little earlier than usual.

Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is not alone in confronting an increase in violent crime, but what little comfort that may provide city officials is tempered by the fact that there are relatively few resources readily available to help cities across the U.S. confront their own rise in gun and drug related violence.

Mayors from 20 cities along with chiefs of police, an array of federal law enforcement officials, and academics met in Washington on Wednesday for a Department of Justice sponsored summit on violent crime.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Samuel Dotson, both attended the day-long session to share ideas, concerns and to make appeals to federal officials for assistance.

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.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson speaks to the press on Friday afternoon after Mansur Ball-Bey's preliminary autopsy.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9 p.m. Friday with announcement from Jennifer Joyce - St. Louis is on high alert after police released the preliminary autopsy of an 18-year-old man shot and killed by a police officer earlier this week.

At a Friday afternoon press conference, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson confirmed that Mansur Ball-Bey was killed by a gunshot wound to the back. This came after Dotson and other police officials told reporters that Ball-Bey had pointed a gun an officer before he was shot and killed in St. Louis’ Fountain Park neighborhood.

St. Louis police chief Dotson speaks beside clergy and Mayor Francis Slay Thursday in Fountain Park, calling for calm after a night of unrest.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Friday with preliminary autopsy report:

St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson defended Thursday the tactics city police used the previous night during unrest that broke out in north St. Louis after the fatal police shooting of Mansur Ball-Bey. Later that night St. Louis police officers held back as a group marched to the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues and blocked traffic there for almost an hour.

On Friday morning, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released a statement saying that the city's medical examiner's preliminary autopsy "indicates Ball-Bey sustained a single gunshot wound to his back."

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

On Thursday morning, sisters Debbie and Darlene Ball were sweeping up around the front yard in St. Louis’ Fountain Park area. Several big teddy bears were strapped to a fence at the two-family flat where police shot and killed the pair’s nephew — Mansur Ball-Bey.

Debbie Ball lives in the flat where the shooting occurred. The incident led to tense confrontations between police and residents, the deployment of tear gas and the burning of a car and a vacant home.

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.

August 2014 St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated with arrests - St. Louis police have arrested three individuals in connection with the shooting Tuesday morning of an off-duty officer in the Central West End.

Police chief Sam Dotson says officers had to use a Taser on one individual who was arrested in Maplewood. A fourth man remains at large, but Dotson says the department knows who they are looking for.

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.

Chief Sam Dotson stl police 1.27.15
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern

St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson plans to develop a new website that would rank judges by how often they give probation to people facing certain lower-level felony gun charges.

Judge Jimmie Edwards swears in members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. The ceremony had to be moved outside after a bomb scare at City Hall.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

When Alderman Jack Coatar entered a hotly contested Board of Aldermen contest, his end goal was being sworn into office in the middle of April.

But it’s unlikely that the 7th Ward Democrat envisioned his inauguration would transpire like it did on Tuesday.

Chief Sam Dotson addresses officers on JAnuary 26, 2015
Katelyn Petrin/St. Louis Public Radio

Saying it's time to get back police back into the neighborhoods, St. Louis Metropolitan police chief Sam Dotson on Monday launched the first of three so-called "hot spots" -- or additional patrols designed to combat areas experiencing an uptick in crime.   

For the next week or so, officers from city-wide units will help patrol the Carr Square, St. Louis Place and Old North neighborhoods north and west of downtown. Officers have been told by their commanders to be visible and to focus on arresting people, even for minor crimes.

Alderman Antonio French said regular updates from St. Louis Police chief Sam Dotson would increase police accountability.
Joseph Michael Leahy

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee wants monthly updates from Police Chief Sam Dotson on the status of his department and crime in the city.

Committee members agreed Wednesday morning to request the updates as an interim solution while they work to establish a more permanent system of accountability. The police department has been under local control since 2013 after the city gained oversight from a state board.

Police chief Sam Dotson addresses Tower Grove South residents at a community meeting on December 12, 2014.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated January 6, 2015, at 1:15 PM:

A federal judge is extending a court order that requires police to provide sufficient warning before using tear gas to give lawful protesters a chance to leave.

U.S. District Court Judge Carol Jackson on Tuesday gave attorneys representing protesters and police 45 days to continue what one lawyer called “good faith” settlement discussions on policy changes regarding the use of tear gas. Both sides met on Monday and participated in a conference call, and agreed more time was needed.

A St. Louis police officer will be disciplined for wearing a "Wilson" patch on his uniform, Chief Sam Dotson said Friday.
Rebecca Smith

A St. Louis police officer will face discipline for wearing a patch on his uniform seemingly in support of former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson, during a downtown protest Friday.

An officer with the last name of Coats was seen wearing an arm patch that read "Wilson" during a protest against the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson for August's fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

At the second meeting of the Ferguson Commission, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson was supposed to make a multi-faceted presentation on policing – and what changes were being contemplated for his department.

But Dotson’s plans changed in a hurry. He faced intense public antagonism at Monday’s meeting, which focused on the relationship between citizens and police.

St.Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, left, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar prepare for an interview on "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio on Nov. 14, 2014.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

 When St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar stopped by “St. Louis on the Air” on Friday, part of a weeklong media tour, they sought to stress that they have a plan and that their departments were working with protesters and community members.

Ferguson public safety press conference, 11-11-14. Belmar, Dotson, Ron Johnson, Isom, Bret Johnson, Replogle
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has pledged zero tolerance for violence in anticipation of protests when the grand jury investigating the August shooting death of Michael Brown releases its decision later this month. But he and law enforcement officials at a Tuesday press conference made it clear that they want to protect both protesters and others' safety and property. 

Protest on 10-9-14, probably along Flora place
Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has begun encrypting its radio transmissions after a night of unrest in south St. Louis.  

St. Louis Metropolitan Police chief Sam Dotson listens as state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed announces her plans to introduce legislation mandating 10 years in prison for gun crimes in Missouri.
Rachel Lippmann I St. Louis Public Radio.

A state senator from the city of St. Louis wants individuals who commit gun crimes in Missouri to face what she sees as an appropriate punishment.

"Those with violent crimes and those with gun crimes - they will serve 10 years in prison if we can pass this legislation," state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said Tuesday at a press conference with Mayor Francis Slay and police chief Sam Dotson. "What we're saying is enough is enough."

Video provided by St. Louis Metropolitan Police

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with comments from Chief Sam Dotson, Jeff Roorda, and Ald. Dionne Flowers.

On Tuesday, two officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shot and killed Kajieme Powell, who was 25 years old.

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.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

After almost five years of preparation, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department celebrated its move to new headquarters at 1915 Olive St. with a ceremonial march and ribbon-cutting Saturday.

Because the former headquarters at 1200 Clark Ave. needed $70 million in repairs, the department opted to find a new building instead. The former A.G. Edwards building was purchased in 2011 using $2.7 million in asset forfeiture funds, and the St. Louis Police Foundation contributed $3 million for renovations.

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