Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Room for Error in City's Search for a Police Chief

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Room for Error in City's Search for a Police Chief

Article excerpt

One of the first moves new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson made after taking office was to release police Chief Sam Dotson. That action got three cheers from me. I'm not saying that Dotson was a bad guy or necessarily did a bad job. I don't think Krewson was saying that either. But clearly he didn't have the answer for St. Louis' crime problem, which is one of the worst in the nation.

I also applaud her decision to undertake a national search rather than simply promote from within. We can't keep taking the same approach and expecting different outcomes. Krewson's next move hiring a new chief is one of the most important endeavors anyone will undertake in the metro area over the next year.

The city of St. Louis is the hub of this metropolitan region. The strength of its suburbs on both sides of the river relies on the strength of the city. And the most basic building block in the foundation of a city is security. If people are afraid, they won't live there, they won't visit there, they won't do business there.

Anyone who watches the local news is familiar with the anecdotal evidence. We hear the stories nightly of carjackings, murders, running gunbattles in the street, people being shot leaving the baseball game, kids being killed in the crossfire. A couple of months ago, a woman got hit with a stray bullet while sitting in her seat at Busch Stadium.

But, it's not just anecdotal. St. Louis has the highest violent crime rate in the nation. Worse than Detroit, worse than Baltimore, worse than Newark, N.J., and, believe it or not, worse than Chicago twice as high. St. Louis is the per capita murder capital of the U.S. and it's also among the leaders in the rates of rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Clearly, no one with the St. Louis police department knows how to solve this problem, so Krewson should find someone who does.

Other cities are doing a much better job of controlling crime. St. Louis's violent crime rate is 1,817 per hundred thousand of population. By contrast, Dallas's rate is 694; Los Angeles, 635, and New York City, 585. Obviously, they are doing something right.

These aren't naturally safe cities. They've witnessed horrific crime in the past but they've made transformations. …

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