SHARECOMMENTMORE

By Tracy Clemons

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says there's a growing group of criminals, and it's one that you'd least expect.

In a mayor's cabinet meeting Friday morning, Dotson was asked about young girls and young women. In response, he said 15 to 22-year-old females is a growing criminal class, and that violence in that group is up and they're using weapons more often.

This statement was an answer to a question from Director of St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency Charles Bryson.

"As a cabinet member, you want as much information on what's going on in the city as you can possibly get," Bryson said. "Secondarily, I have two daughters. Both are teenagers, a 17-year-old and a 13-year-old. So I'm interested to see what's going on in their world."

Bryson had heard about this trend and wanted to know if it had made its way here. The Chief's answer was "yes." Though the police department says they don't have numbers to support it.

"Everyone will say 'so goes the woman, so goes the nation.' Well if our young ladies are beginning to perpetrate the same types of crimes as the young males, that does not bode well for our society."

Like joining gangs.

"In a way you expect the girls to be in school and actually wanting to gain their education," said 17-year-old Trevia Blount. "But then you hear about girls being in gangs and it completely shocks you. You're wondering what are they doing to be in this gang and why do they want to be affiliated with it."

Blount was part of a group of 16 and 17-year-old girls we talked to at Matthews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club.

"Some girls feel like since their boyfriends are known around the school, and their boyfriends are tough, then they say 'hey since my boyfriend is tough, I gotta be tough,'" said Tierra Durham.

"It scares me because I hang around females and I don't want anybody to hurt me," said Caitlyn Gavin. "I don't want to be associated with that type of mess."

Charles Bryson says the chief discussed the department's outreach efforts aimed at keeping young girls from this kind of violence. Bryson says there should be female police officers in the schools steering girls who might be considering a gang into a more positive direction.