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Conflicting Crime Stats Tell A Tale of Two Cities

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Police Chief Sam Dotson responds to dangerous city ranking.

Police Chief Sam Dotson responds to dangerous city ranking.

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – On the same morning he was claiming crime is heading down, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson was confronted with the latest CQ Press ranking of St. Louis as the “fourth most dangerous city in the nation.”

Based on FBI crime statistics, the ranking found St. Louis had the fourth-highest rate of aggravated assaults last year and the nation’s fifth-highest murder rate.

“It’s really unfair to compare the city of St. Louis which is just the urban core of 62 square miles to places like Kansas City which is over 300 square miles, which has an urban core, a suburban area and rural area,” Dotson said, “so it’s never an apples to apples comparison.”

The CQ Press report came out earlier this year. Wednesday, Dotson told the monthly police board meeting that, compared to a year ago, overall crime is down seven percent, crimes against persons are down 22 percent, aggravated assaults are down 23 percent and murder is down 15.5 percent.

“When you look at it as a region, the reality is we’re well below 100,” Dotson said of the “most dangerous” rankings.

The Chief gives some of the credit to the recent undercover surge operation by federal agents. Eighty agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have arrested dozens of suspects for firearms crimes in the past three months on both sides of the river.

Looking ahead, Dotson says the city plans to use a new “smart policing” map to identify not only where the crimes have occurred but where they are likely to occur in the future based on past trends.

The CQ Press study also noted that violent crime trends are headed in the right direction in St. Louis.

“St. Louis had 80 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 residents last year than it did in 2011; a bigger improvement than any other U.S. city,” the study stated.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the crime study to the Urban Institute. The CQ Press compiled the index.

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