Serious crime drops, county police report

Serious crime in St. Louis County dropped by roughly 12 percent from 2008 to 2009 across all major categories, according to a recent report from the county Police Department.

In addition, the roughly 11,000 crimes reported in 2009 represent the second lowest annual county crime rate in the past 20 years, the report stated.

In all, 11,084 crimes were reported in the county last year, down 12.3 percent from the 12,642 reported in 2008.

Last year’s crime total is second only to that of 2004 for the lowest county crime rate in two decades. A total of 10,644 crimes were reported that year.

When compared to 2008 figures, county law enforcement in 2009 saw:

• Murders decrease from 15 to 13, a 13.3-percent drop.

• One less report of rape, from 83 to 82, a 1.2-percent decrease.

• Robberies decrease from 328 to 305, a 7-percent decline.

• Aggravated assaults decrease by 16.8 percent, from 739 to 615.

• A 22.1-percent drop in the number of burglaries, from 2,530 to 1,972.

• Larceny-thefts decrease from 7,767 to 7,172, a 7.7-percent drop.

• Motor vehicle thefts decline by 21.3 percent, from 1,110 to 874.

• Arson cases fall by 27.1 percent, from 70 to 51.

Coverage areas include unincorporated St. Louis County and municipalities serviced by county police.

“I am very proud of our patrol officers, detectives and support personnel because this decreases emphasizes their dedication and commitment to the community,” Police Chief Tim Fitch said in a statement.

Fitch told reporters last week that a combination of additional police officers, increased patrol in high-crime areas and greater community awareness of and participation in safety programs contributed to the lower crime numbers.

A 2009 reorganization of the Police Department led to an additional 38 officers on the street, which helped both reduce crime and improve response time, Fitch said. The county also has bolstered its community programs, such as Neighborhood Watch, and has introduced an anti-violence initiative aimed specifically at curbing crimes committed by youths, he added.

County Executive Charlie Dooley said in a statement last week the Police Department is “more than living up to the standards that the residents of St. Louis County expect and deserve.”

“Crime is down,” Dooley said. “That’s a good thing.”