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St. Louis police commanders complain about judges

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Sam Dotson

ST. LOUIS (AP) – St. Louis police commanders say they’re frustrated by what they see as leniency shown by judges in sentencing and prosecutors not issuing enough homicide charges as the city’s number of slayings have climbed.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Chief Sam Dotson posted a blog entry on Wednesday, renewing a call for the St. Louis Circuit Court to establish an “armed offender docket,” which would use specific judges to focus on gun possession cases.

In his post, Dotson complained about a judge’s probation sentence several years ago for Rashad Edwards, who’s now charged with murder in the April killing of Cameron Wilson. Dotson claims that Wilson could still be alive if Edwards wasn’t just put on probation.

It’s unknown if Edwards has an attorney yet.
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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office issued the following response to these police complaints:

As prosecutors, we uphold the laws of the State of Missouri and the U.S. Constitution. It’s quite a serious matter to charge someone with murder. While it may be standard procedure in some countries to issue charges against someone you “think” committed a crime, in the U.S. it’s unethical for a prosecutor to pursue a case without the evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

We wish we had evidence in every homicide to issue charges. Hopes and wishes aren’t evidence. Too often, we are unable to charge a case because an essential witness has not been located or because essential evidence is lacking. We request follow-up police work in the vast majority of cases to gather needed evidence, as there is no statute of limitations to homicide.

Captain Sack is correct that we can’t keep doing what has been done in the past. That’s why our office has implemented new strategies that are aggressive, collaborative and data-driven approaches to reducing gun crimes.