Violent crime in St. Louis increased by 5.3 percent in 2014 while overall crime and property crime rates dropped, according to a new report released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police.
The overall crime rate dropped 3.3 percent in 2014, a smaller drop than the 5.4 percent decrease in 2013.
The city of St. Louis ended 2014 with 159 homicides, a 32.5 percent jump from last year's 120 homicides, according to police statistics. St. Louis saw a 6 percent spike in crimes against persons in the second half of 2014 -- a jump Mayor Francis Slay said may be part of "the Ferguson effect."
"There is a higher level of tension" after Ferguson protests started in August, Slay told Daily RFT in December. "I think criminals become more emboldened. That is a bad trend and one we need to deal with."
Police chief Sam Dotson also noted the change in crime numbers between July and the months following the fatal shooting of Ferguson teen Michael Brown.
"Through the month of July, overall crime in the City of St. Louis was down 12.3 percent, with a 5.8 percent decrease in person crime and a 13.8 percent decrease in property crime," Dotson says. "In the past five months, our region has experienced many challenges stemming from civil unrest."
Dotson says officers will refocus their efforts on hot-spot and neighborhood-based policing in 2015. Slay is pushing for the city to add 160 new police officers with a special effort to recruit from the black community to combat the troubling trend.
Robberies increased by 7.1 percent, and aggravated assaults increased by 5.7 percent. The number of reported rapes dropped by 16.2 percent in 2014. The year 2013 saw a startling 67 percent jump in rape cases, which police chief Dotson attributed to the FBI's newly-broadened definition of rape.
St. Louis property crime rates -- including rates for burglaries, larcenies, vehicle thefts and arsons -- went down overall by 5.4 percent in 2014, according to the crime data.
Burglaries decreased by 2.2 percent to the lowest level since 1950, and vehicle thefts decreased by 2.5 percent to the lowest levels since 1952.
Here's the crime report: