Data shows downtown crime is down, residents say they want it safer ‘We’re not feeling that’

St. Louis Police told the audience at a downtown town hall meeting Monday that crime in the downtown area is trending in a positive direction.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:13 PM CDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 12:36 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis Police told the audience at a downtown town hall meeting Monday that crime in the downtown area is trending in a positive direction, despite a perception that it’s getting worse.

“The data shows we’re on a downward crime trend,” said Lieutenant Anthony Aubuchon with St. Louis Police Department.

The stats back it up. Data from April shows personal crime is down 31%, and property crime is down 59% from the same time last year.

“And he’s saying crime is down. Well, crime is down because we don’t call the police because they don’t respond when we call,” said Gwen Chambers, a city resident.

Chambers said she convinced her daughter’s family to move back to St. Louis City recently but she’s since been a little disillusioned with city life.

“A couple of years ago, I convinced my daughter to buy a home down there, and things are just, I’m feeling it was a mistake,” said Chambers.

Downtown resident Peter Cwalino felt better after leaving the meeting, but the crime stats don’t match his perception.

He told News 4 he saw a murder victim at Kiener Plaza less than a month ago.

“I was surprised about the officer mentioning that crime has gone down because, from a resident standpoint, we’re not feeling that,” said Cwalino.

Cara Spencer and Rasheen Aldridge, both representing portions of downtown on the Board of Aldermen, told the town hall crowd that they’re working to make downtown safer.

Spencer said the city will soon target certain problem businesses and people.

“Instead of focusing on a general area, focusing on specific businesses, specific people, the very small number that are actually perpetuating violence in our streets,” said Spencer.

Other ideas include banning people from openly carrying firearms without a permit, redoing the city’s liquor license process and regulating short-term rentals.

Registering Airbnb rentals and similar companies was music to Cwalino’s ears.

“And that’s important because we have people come and go, and they’re not there for really long, and they don’t care. So from that perspective, it’s important to have some restrictions on it,” said Cwalino.

Lt. Aubuchon also said, after being pressed from the crowd, that the city could use more cops.

“There’s not a police department in this country that feels like they’re not understaffed,” said Aubuchon.

Aldridge hopes recent pay raises keep the current officers in the city.

“If we don’t maintain and keep the current officers we got, that’s going to be a problem,” Aldridge said.

Aubuchon also said St. Louis Police would be adding officers downtown over the next couple of days due to a major convention, including a large event at Kiener Plaza on Tuesday.