Despite a drop in serious crimes reported in St. Louis in the last half of 2015, totals for the year still represent increases over 2014, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The 18.2 percent increase in homicides dominated the headlines, but reported robberies increased 14.6 percent and aggravated assaults were up 5.2 percent. There were 16 fewer rapes reported. Vehicle theft rose 3.1 percent and larcenies 1.7 percent. The number of burglaries was nearly the same. Overall, the department said, the serious crimes reported to the FBI increased 2.2 percent compared to 2014 — or 25,013 crimes reported, from murder to theft, up 651 from the previous year. Violent crime increased 7.8 percent.
Police Chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay pointed to declining month-to-month statistics after July, when overall crime had been at a pace to be 14.5 percent higher than in 2014. Dotson attributed some of the decline to a lessening of the “Ferguson effect,” the theory that criminals were emboldened and police officers overworked by the long-running strife and disorder after Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. “Officers are back in the neighborhoods doing their jobs,” Dotson said. “They are reinvigorated.” Over the past decade, he said, “crime continues on a significant downward trend.” Serious crimes per 1,000 city residents fell from a high of 142 in the early 1990s to 82 in 2015, he said. Slay, for his part, released the names of 15 people who will serve on a new city crime commission, an advisory body that will monitor crime trends and gather ideas from community leaders and the public.