Fairview Heights police release video of suspect wanted for robbing a Dollar General Store on Oct. 11.
SPRINGFIELD – St. Clair County posted the state’s highest homicide rate from 2010 to 2016, and ranked near the top in rape, robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault and battery, according to annual state police reports.
Sheriff candidate Nick Gailius, retired police chief of Fairview Heights, said one of the reasons for a high crime rate is lack of adequate patrolling.
“There are not enough police officers and deputies on the street to have a positive effect,” Gailius said. “There are times when the Sheriff's office only has two deputies patrolling the whole county. Without a strong patrol effort, there is no time for citizen interaction, which reduces crime and the fear of crime.”
St. Clair County reported 238 homicides between 2010 and 2016, or one for every 1,135 residents in the 2010 census.
Only Cook County came close to that level of bloodshed, reporting 3,899 homicides at a rate of one for every 1,333 residents.
St. Clair County posted higher rates than Cook County in rape, burglary, and aggravated assault and battery.
Comparing St. Clair County to Madison County, a neighbor with about the same population, produces dramatic differences.
Madison County reported 44 homicides, one for every 5.4 homicides in St. Clair County.
Gailius, a Republican, will face incumbent Sheriff Rick Watson in the Nov. 6 election. Watson did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Gailius said that his opponent likes to cite a Loyola University study which concludes that the overall crime rate in St. Clair County has decreased over the past 15 years, driven primarily by a decrease in property crime.
He said he doesn’t dispute the validity of the Loyola study, but that the study was “selective in their starting and ending year for their statement that crime is down in St. Clair County.”
He points out that the Loyola study, in fact, shows that in 2016, the property index offense rate in St. Clair County was 2,395 per 100,000 residents, roughly 50 percent higher than the rate of 1,580 per 100,000 residents in Illinois outside of Cook and St. Clair counties that year.
For that year it also shows the violent index offense rate in St. Clair County was 585 per 100,000 residents, more than double the rate of 247 per 100,000 residents in Illinois outside of Cook and St. Clair counties that year.
Annual state police reports show that St. Clair County reported 1,111 rapes, and Madison County reported 669.
St. Clair County reported 2,663 robberies, and Madison County reported 710.
St. Clair County reported 10,023 aggravated assaults and batteries, and Madison County reported 2,825.
St. Clair County reported 14,088 burglaries, and Madison County reported 8,549.
In crimes other than homicide, Winnebago, Sangamon, Peoria, and Vermilion counties jumped ahead of St. Clair County.
Their homicide rates still lagged behind St. Clair County.
Winnebago County, home of Rockford, reported 162 homicides at a rate of one for
every 1,823 residents. Peoria County reported 109 homicides, one for every 1,711 residents.
Sangamon County reported 61 homicides, one for every 3,238 residents.
Vermilion County, home of Danville, presented an odd combination of rampant crime and respect for life.
In 2015 and 2016, Danville reported 170 rapes, 194 robberies, 881 aggravated assaults and batteries, 1,894 burglaries, and not a single homicide.
Gailius said that strategies used to combat crime should involve input and participation from all levels of government.
“When an area faces the brutal crime rates we do, a joint effort is the most effective and most efficient way to have an impact,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it's about having manpower, using the manpower smartly and working together for a common purpose...all things sorely lacking in St. Clair County.”