St. Charles police use crime data to predict when, where criminals will strike

FOX Files

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – There are patterns everywhere, including with the behavior of criminals. A St. Charles City crime analyst recently found those patterns and worked with police throughout the county to crack down on crimes.

A recent police pursuit that ended at the Blanchett Bridge is an example of how investigators used crime data to predict where & when criminals may strike.

St. Charles City Police Chief Ray Juengst said, “We’re using what they do, against them.”

Juengst says the new technique helps focus their policing. He said, “One of the things that really surprised us about that was the day and times of the events. They weren’t typically when people think about crime. They think about Friday and Saturday night.”

Civilian, crime analyst Devlin Hutchins found hotspots throughout St. Charles County and then passed his findings on to police.

This map shows the hotspot for overnight hours for the first four months of 2021 on a Tuesday. This assists the commander in directing patrols to those areas.

Hutchins said, “We were able to say, well traditionally we thought it was on these days, during these hours, but the data is showing this. Let’s shift our patrols and see if we have luck in those areas.”

Hutchins monitored crime behavior changes in real-time. Police could monitor what he put into the system so that command staff could shift schedules. At one point the data revealed a change in criminal behavior – from the middle week overnights to the beginning of the week early mornings. Police shifted operations to those times.

Police departments throughout St. Charles County are working together.

“The beauty of the system is the more data you put in, the more useful it is to everyone,” Wentzville Police Officer Jacob Schmidt said.

Officer Schmidt says they’re using the shared crime data in conjunction with new license plate readers, called Flock Safety Cameras. He added, “Now there’s an extra 15 set of eyes out there. They are a true force multiplier.”

One recent hit he says caught a ring of thieves about to steal more cars. Then right after our interview, we learned a hit on one of their cameras led to the arrest of a stolen car suspect from Independence, MO.

“It can get those resources to that area quickly to respond to that stolen vehicle, stolen plate, or missing person,” Schmidt said.

“… Just the effort we had of working and pooling our resources together, that’s kind of unprecedented for our county as a whole and it really showed what we can do when we come together,” Juengst said.

You might think this could drive criminals over to St. Louis County, however, Juengst says he has meetings set up with several jurisdictions on the east side of the bridge, in order to send the message to criminals throughout the region – there’s nowhere to hide.

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