Police Respond to Rash of Violent Crime in Dutchtown

Categories: Community, Crime

Keith Novara1.jpg
Keith Novara, "the new police face" of Dutchtown.
​Perhaps it's no coincidence that three of the most notorious murders in the city this year -- the killing of U.S. Marshal John Perry; the unprovoked assault on 72-year-old Hoang Nguyen as he walked home from the grocery store; and this week's killing of Paul Reiter, who investigators believe was shot after interrupting a burglary next-door -- all occurred in the same neighborhood: Dutchtown.

With that in mind, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department held a town hall-style meeting yesterday, announcing a new initiative to stem the violent trend and assuage people's fears. The message was clear: Help us help you.

"The number-one preventer of crime are citizens; we can't be on every corner and every porch," said First District Captain Dan Howard, who led a discussion that also included Chief Dan Isom, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Mayor Francis Slay.

The banquet hall of Grbcic's Restaurant was filled with scores of citizens like Tom and Barb Saito, whose Elier Street house was burglarized on Holy Saturday while they were at a Cardinals day game. They returned home early to prep for the holiday, only to find their house ransacked and car stolen.

"We don't want this neighborhood to go down the tubes," says Barb Saito, a 34-year resident of Dutchtown. "Obviously there needs to be more police protection, and as neighbors we need to watch out for each other."

The new police initiative, called "Dutchtown Now," creates a new full-time position for a police officer who will devote himself to the neighborhood. That officer, Keith Novara, will be the "face of the police" for residents, says Howard; in a couple weeks, he will move into a newly established substation at 3840 Keokuk.

Novara, who has a friendly demeanor, rides a Harley Davidson and has previously served as a detective investigating sex crimes and child abuse, has already been nicknamed "Dutch" by his colleagues to signify his new post.

In Dutchtown, a neighborhood with 18,000 residents, 55 percent of crimes do not get prosecuted because there is no cooperation with victims or witnesses. "Citizen involvement is not only a good way, but the only way to make a neighborhood safe," said Joyce.

"You are the 800-pound gorilla in the criminal justice system," she added. "You don't know it, but you are."

At the end of the meeting, residents were encouraged to sign up to become block captains, mobile patrol volunteers and victim's-advocacy supporters. The reaction among audience members was generally warm and enthusiastic. "We're kicking into gear, and once it's in gear, it's going to work," says 15th Ward Neighborhood Stabilization Officer Judy Lane.

Still, others prefer results -- not more talk and glad-handing by city officials.

"I'm looking for some solutions to these problems," says Valerie Holmes, who attended the meeting with her young son. She says she frequently witnesses drug hand-offs outside her window on Meramec Street. "Every time we get up in the morning and turned on the news, someone just got killed," she says.

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I went to the 3840 Keokuk substation yesterday looking for the police but no one was there. I inquired about it at the corner convenience store (attached to the building) and was pawed by a local man. It seems that the nearest police station is at Arsenal and Sublette. This is a bit too far from Dutchtown. The reason I had gone looking for the police was because the night before, there was a stabbing on my front lawn, the victim and perpatrator both fled the scene. I called the police after hearing screams . The police arrived, never stopped at my house, the scene of the crime, and left. I called again after seeing large amounts of blood on my property as well as my neighbors'. The police taped it off as a crime scene , stayed a couple of hours, arrested the woman who stabbed the man and left. I wanted to see a copy of the police report and was told that there was only a call about a single shot fired, no other information. I also wanted to know who could clean all of the blood off of our sidewalks. No one seemed to know who I should to talk with about this matter, so they put me in touch with the fire dept. who came over and hosed down the sidewalk. I am anxious to see a stronger police prescence here, we really need it. 


I spent the first 22 years of my life growing up in the Dutchtown neighborhood. I have seen it steadily decline from a place where I used to ride my bike and play football in the St. Anthony Padua rectory courtyard in safety to a place I won't travel to without being armed. There is one thing to blame for this steady decline: the movement of good/hard-working citizens away from the neighborhood to other places and the steady disregard for maintaining property.

Don't get me wrong, I support the effort outlined by the SLPD and the Mayor above but I think there are two things that we must do to truly solve the problems St. Louis has. One, we need to stop shuffling problem persons and problem properties to other neighborhoods and figure out how to stamp out trouble-makers for good or move them to areas where they can prey on each other without bothering the rest of us. Second, we need to incentivize hard-working employed people to purchase in the city and stay there! One of the first rules of capital economics is that money will move to where it can be most efficiently applied. When people invest in something they tend to stand by it and fight to protect it. When the environment makes it easier to move away, people do.

I am still a city resident but now I live on the Hill. It makes me sad everytime I pass through my old neighborhood now and see what it has become and the fond memories of places I used to spend time in, but now present much greater danger.

FDR (Former Dutchtown Resident)


I think anybody who knows St. Louis knows the problem are the state streets east of Grand. The further west you go from there the less of a problem there is. This isn't anything new. Why not focus on where the problem is? Everything between S. Grand and Broadway. Drug sales are made there in the open and you can cruise around a few blocks and spot at least 10-15 dealers.


We need more scrubby Dutch in Dutchtown, and less hoodlums. It would also be nice if the judges would quit giving punks probation for felonies.


And perhaps it is a coincidence? The lede makes no sense.


fuck capital economics

it's created the ghettoes

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