ST. LOUIS - A shouting match broke out at St. Louis City Hall Thursday. It all went down as the police chief Sam Dotson was trying to update Aldermen and citizens on efforts to fight crime.
Several dozen north St. Louis residents came to the meeting hoping to ask Chief Dotson what police are doing to stop the violence in their neighborhood. But they weren't allowed to ask any questions during the meeting.
"If you don't like it, I'm going to ask the marshals to clear the room," committee chair Alderman Phyllis Young told the group.
And Aldermen were given time limits for their questions.
"I have never been denied access to ask questions. And I will never have the chief at any of my meetings if you do not let me and the people here ask...you tell her [to the chief] she's doing the wrong thing now," expressed First Ward Alderman Sharon Tyus.
The meeting was for police to brief the public safety committee on crime stats and strategies.
"Crime is down," said Chief Dotson. "Two categories: aggravated assaults and homicides are up. And that's why hot spot policing is focused on those crimes right now."
"That's a reactive response not a proactive response," added 21st Ward resident Laura Keys. "We already know where the crime is. You don't have to take a look at your charts, and your graphs to know where the crimes are occurring."
Twenty-nine of the 44 murders have been in districts five and six, which cover the north side. North Patrol Division Commander Major Ronnie Robinson says they've created a special response team.
"This team responds to every aggravated assault and every shooting to determine why the shooting and to make a determination and classify the shooting whether it's gang related, domestic, personal issues to try to stop the retaliatory possibility of the shootings," he said.
Police say many of the violent crimes are committed by people who should already be locked up, but a lack of cooperation ties their hands.
"I'm aware of at least three homicides where we've made arrests in the last couple of weeks, where because of witness participation that case isn't moving forward as well as I would like it to," Dotson said.
Major Robinson also says if you see something negative happening in your neighborhood, or something that just doesn't look right, call police. He says that can go a long way to preventing crime.