CLAYTON, MO (KMOX)- The last time crime in the area patrolled by St. Louis County Police was as low as it was last year: a home cost $28,000, gasoline cost 35 cents a gallon and a postage stamp cost six cents!
That was 1969.
County Police Chief Tim Fitch says crime in the areas his officers patrol decreased 7.4 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. That makes five straight years of declines.
Fitch says much of the credit goes to the increasing partnership between the police and residents, “Because citizens continue to report things to us, as they always have, we’re able to respond quickly and get out there and do something about it and hopefully prevent those crimes before they happen.”
Fitch also credits the new Community Accountability Program, which has his officers keeping an eye on criminals out on parole, “Let’s say there’s a probation requirement that the individual be in their home by ten o’clock every night. Well, these individuals knew that the probation and parole folks generally aren’t out at ten at night, or two in the morning or four in the morning. Well guess what, the police are.”
Fitch says officers have referred many offenders to probation and parole, leading to their incarceration. He says that’s been especially effective in Jennings, which has seen crime cut in half in the three-plus years the county’s been patrolling there.
Fitch reports a 6 percent drop in robberies, a 3 percent reduction in burglaries, a 26.5 percent drop in larcenies, a 25.2 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts, a 1.2 percent decline in aggravated assault and a 25.6 percent drop in arsons.
Fitch says homicides held steady at 8, and all were solved.
And while rapes were up 126 percent (from 50 to 113), he says that’s because the justice department changed it’s 80-year-old definition to include all unwanted sexual contact, “The old definition of rape under the FBI rules for uniform crime reporting was man versus woman, and it was basically sexual intercourse. Now, they’ve added all different types of sex crimes that would fall into that that may not necessarily just be illegal intercourse.”
He says because of that change, all agencies are reporting much higher rape figures (the city of St. Louis did last month). He says all of the county’s rapes were solved.
The crime figures do not include municipalities within the county that have their own police departments.
Fitch, who is retiring next month, says, “You wonder if we’re at the lowest crime since 1969, how much lower can it really go? But we’re willing to give it a try.”