Discussion: Why Is Overall Crime In St. Louis Down But Violent Crimes Up?
The 2013 crime statistics for the city of St. Louis were released last week, with mostly positive results. The city continued its five-year downward trend in both violent crime and property crime, but there was a 6 percent increase in homicides. And, a jump in the number of rapes is attributed to a change in classification of what constitutes rape.
According to criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, St. Louis is part of a national downward trend in crime. He is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a consultant for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
"Statistics tell us something about the situation, but for the person who is a victim of a crime, crime is a hundred percent." - Alderman Craig Schmid, 20th ward in South St. Louis
“When you see city after city declining, it’s unlikely that local factors are responsible in each and every case. Although I do think that smarter policing has become quite widespread in the U.S. and St. Louis would be included there,” Rosenfeld said.
There are other factors contributing to the overall decrease in crime according to Rosenfeld. One is the area's aging population and the other is the economy despite a period of low inflation. "If prices are going up, there’s an incentive for people who steal for a living to do more of that because they’re going to get more for what they steal and resell, but if prices are flat or even down in some cases, those incentives weaken," he said.
Despite the overall decrease in crime, some neighborhoods in St. Louis continue to see a lot of it. Take a look at the interactive map below for a breakdown of crime by neighborhood.
As aldermen of some of the more crime-plagued neighborhoods, Antonio French and Craig Schmid are concerned about making all parts of the city safe.
“What I’m most concerned about is the rise of homicides and the continued violence in the city. It’s one thing to measure slight increases or decline year to year, but the real thing is the measure of the human toll. You’re talking about 120 people murdered, 1,600 assaults with guns in the city,” French said. He is alderman of the 21st ward in North St. Louis, which includes the Kingsway East, Mark Twain, Penrose and Greater Ville neighborhoods.
“Statistics tell us something about the situation, but for the person who is a victim of a crime, crime is a hundred percent,” Schmid said. He is the alderman of the 20th ward in South St. Louis, which includes the Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Marine Villa and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.