It happens…another shooting

Counting my time as a recruit, I have been a City police officer for over seventeen years.

I was never one of those people who always wanted to be a cop. It wasn’t my lifelong dream for sure. Honestly, I don’t trust people who say it’s what they’ve always wanted to do, especially if it doesn’t matter where. Who dreams of working in an underpaid, under-appreciated position for 30 years of their lives, especially in a town or city where they have no affiliation?

In spite of my sometimes crusty personality, I do like some people, and I enjoy helping folks when I can, particularly those who need help the most, like kids or the elderly. I imagine most good cops feel the same.

The City was the only place I applied, and had I never been hired here, I’d have never been a police officer. I was born in the City and spent much of my childhood roaming the City streets. It’s where my loved ones still live, plus the blue uniform shirt really bring out the blue in my eyes, so it was a no-brainer.

In spite of this, I sometimes wonder what it must be like to work in a community where crime isn’t so rampant. I wonder what it’s like when a busy shift means a couple of calls about kids skateboarding where they shouldn’t be, or because somebody’s dog is barking too loudly next door.

My last post was almost three weeks ago. In that post, I offered words for the newest police academy graduates. They would be going to areas where there is no time to answer dog barking or kid skateboarding calls, because there are always more pressing issues to be handled.

In that post I asked the following:

Will they have the courage to pull the trigger to save another person’s life, if that’s what has to be done?

To save another officer’s life?

To save their own life?

I hope they never find out, but the odds are stacked against all eighteen of them going through even a short career without at least one of them having to use deadly force, or being the victim of somebody else’s use of deadly force upon them.

Three weeks after their graduation, one of them learned the hard way that I wasn’t blowing smoke up their asses when I lamented the odds of none of them being put into a deadly force situation.

Three fucking weeks.

And this just four months after another City officer was shot and saved by his vest.

Last night, one of the newest police officers was shot in his shoulder, just inches from his neck.

Inches from paralysis

Inches from death.

He learned that he did have the courage to pull the trigger to try to save his own life.

“XXX got shot.”

That was a text I got last night from one of my buddies I worked in north city with, probably not long after it happened. Thankfully, I was already asleep.

I didn’t see the text until I woke up this morning, or I wouldn’t have been able to sleep all night.

He was a good recruit, and will be a good officer, should he still have the mental fortitude to carry on with this job.

I trust he will.

This recruit was assigned to the sixth district. Those of you who’ve read my posts about any number of violent shootings will recognize the sixth as the same district where I most recently worked.

The district is a clusterfuck of indifference to human life. It’s an area of rampant depravity and me-first mindsets, interspersed with some commercial properties and small pockets of good and decent people living among all the chaos.

It’s for these people that we are able to will ourselves out of bed to go to work everyday. It’s for the people who want to say thank you, when they see an officer, but are too scared to be seen talking to the police for fear that somebody will think they are snitching.

Snitches get stitches.

That’s funny in some contexts, but it’s the cold, hard truth in North St. Louis. It’s a battle we fight every day.

The officer is a “Lucky SOB,” is what I was told by the sergeant who was with him when he was shot.

“He didn’t even know he was shot. I had to tell him,” the sergeant said.

Fear and adrenaline are good for that, at least.  The pain comes later, when it all wears off.

The sergeant is a good police officer and a good man. I worked for him and would go to bat for him any time, any place. I know he feels some guilt about what happened because he cares for his men and women. He would feel the same even if he wasn’t there that night. It’s the nature of the job to always question what happened and question what we could have done differently. Those are good questions to ask though, because that’s how we learn. That’s how we improve.

The bullet went in and out of his shoulder, catching nothing but some skin and tissue, it appears. That’s lucky, but it’d still hurt like hell, without all the juices flowing.

We harp on the dangers of policing for the entire six months of their training, and I sometimes wonder if any of it is sinking in.

The “it won’t happen to me” attitude is dangerous.

It won’t happen to me is what we’re thinking when we don’t use a seat belt or we drink and drive or we leave a loaded gun in a house filled with kids.

It’s a dangerous mindset, but we all have it sometimes.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a class of recruits in the academy right now, because this would be a perfect learning tool and reality check for them in understanding just what we mean when we tell them the job is dangerous, and that it can happen to you.

I’m sure the new officer used to sit in the back row of class and think, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a dangerous job, I get it…”

You can bet that he does get it now.

Thankfully, but for a couple of inches, he’ll live to get it another day.


To the officer – you know who you are, and I recall you mentioning that you read this blog. Know that I am proud of you and thankful that you are going to be okay. Take all the time you need to get your mind where it needs to be to get back out on the street. The sergeant said you did a great job, and I had no doubts that you would, though I hoped you and your mates would never be put into that position.

Keep up the good fight!

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A word or several on the newest police officers…

Tonight we will send eighteen men and women into the streets of St. Louis as newly appointed police officers.

These men and women who woke up civilian recruits in training this morning, will go to sleep commissioned police officers tonight.

They will wake up tomorrow with the power to arrest law breakers.

At least as important, if not more so, they will wake up tomorrow with the power to not arrest law breakers too. They will have discretion, and learning to use it wisely will make them better officers.

They will wake up tomorrow as people who others depend on for answers and solutions, when those people can’t fix problems themselves.

Will these new officers have the answers those people need?

No, not all of them. Not right away. They won’t remember everything they learned in the academy; it’s impossible.

That will come with time and continued training and some trial and error.

What will they remember when they wake up though?

Will they appreciate that they were given an oath and a gun and a bullet resistant vest for a reason?

Do they understand that they’ve been tasked with the unenviable job of running to people in their times of crisis and that they will be expected to make the right decisions, and quickly, when they get there?

Do they appreciate that they are allowed to take a life, when the circumstances are such that it’s necessary? Will they make sure that it’s absolutely necessary and be able to explain that?

Will they have the courage to pull the trigger to save another person’s life, if that’s what has to be done?

To save another officer’s life?

To save their own life?

I hope they never find out, but the odds are stacked against all eighteen of them going through even a short career without at least one of them having to use deadly force, or being the victim of somebody else’s use of deadly force upon them.

This is especially true in today’s climate of policing.

This class of recruits signed up for the job knowing full well of the events in Ferguson and Baltimore and all the other places we’ve seen on the news.

They know of the animosity.

They know of the anger and the hatred.

They know of the mistrust and the violence and the danger, but still…

But still, they signed up.

Maybe they signed up to make a difference, to change things.

I don’t know that. I just know they signed up.

They signed up and sat in a classroom with others who signed up as well.

This class of recruits was diverse. There were men and women. There were gays and straights and blacks and whites and several recruits born in foreign lands. Most were young, in their twenties. Others were in their thirties, and even forties. All of them ended up together and supported one another, in spite of their differences, through the arduous task of graduating from the police academy.

They did their seven months of learning and training and role-playing, and they are all excited to move on to the next stage of their lives.

They have been preached to and yelled at and scolded and encouraged and they got through a course of training that not everyone can endure, mentally or physically.

Eight of their own classmates didn’t make the cut for one reason or another.

But eighteen did.

This was my first time teaching an academy class. I taught them Constitutional and statutory law.

I’m sure they hated it.

It’s not as fun as target shooting or learning arm bar holds and all that, but it is important, and I hope they will remember some of what we talked about.

Being a new police officer is tough.

There’s so much to learn, and the people on the street, especially the life-long criminals, know when they’re dealing with a “rookie.”

They will try to push their buttons.

They will be called racists and killers and hicks and crackers and Uncle Toms by people who don’t have a clue.

I hope they’re able to ignore the hate and not let it get them down.

I hope that they will never turn down a handshake or a hug, no matter how unclean the person offering either may be.

I hope they walk with their heads high and smile at people they pass on the streets.

I hope they remember that every time they step out of their car, they are onstage.

The uniform demands attention.

I hope they wear it with pride.

I hope they dry clean or iron their shirts and make sure their shoes and brass shine.

Looking their best is the least they can do to send a message that, “Hey, I’m a person who takes pride in my work.”

I hope they do what they can to bring respect to the police department.

I hope they demand justice and truth and don’t allow anybody to be mistreated in their presence, even especially by another police officer.

I hope when they see police officers caught on video doing something, good, bad or otherwise, that they remember it could be them next time, and learn from what they see.

Get involved in the community where you patrol.

Meet the business owners and the church pastors.

Talk to the people at the neighborhood meetings.

Talk to that guy you arrested last week, sometimes he’ll surprise you.

A man arrested on a Saturday night isn’t necessarily a bad person the next Tuesday. We all have bad days. He may thank you for arresting him. He may tell you he needed it, and that he appreciates that you treated him with kindness and respect.

People remember being treated with kindness and respect, so do that first.

If it reaches the point where you have to put your hands on a person, then do that too, but only do what needs to be done to make sure that you are safe.

Don’t kick a man in handcuffs. Don’t slap him or drag him or throw him down to the ground.

Don’t call people names.

Be the better person and set the example.

Not just tomorrow when you wake up, but every time you put that badge on your shirt to go to work.

I hope that at the end of every day, you can be proud of the person you see in the mirror before you go to bed.

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Fun with guns…let’s figure it out

I am whatever the opposite of political is.


It’s not that I don’t care about what happens in the world I live in, no, I do.

I get enough argument and headache at work and with trying to carry on a conversation with my four year old, so the last thing I want to do is argue politics with people outside of work who, quite frankly, aren’t going to change their minds anyway.

When I do want to vent about a situation, I try to do it by writing, and even then, in a mostly non-confrontational way. An example of this is when I finally had to write about the whole mess in Ferguson, MO. 

That post was written during a tumultuous time in in the St. Louis area, but the media was blowing it way out of proportion. If you turned CNN on, you’d have thought that the City of St. Louis had become the Beirut of the United States. That was simply not the case, and it was my hope that by sharing my little story, people would understand that it wasn’t all as bleak as it seemed. Life was still happening. I tried to further that notion with this post reminding people who were angry about some of the better times we’d shared in the hopes that we’d not lose touch with them as we tried to move forward.

Those posts sort of turned this blog from a “humor” blog that was read by my grandma and four other people, into a blog more focused on my work life, but one where the posts were being read and shared by a lot more people.

It was bound to happen, and that’s why the name of the blog has always been “Donofalltrades.” I reserved the right to talk about whatever I wanted to, and that’s what’s going to continue to happen.

This blog has received more attention than I’d ever imagined it would or even could, and that has everything to do with posts I’ve written about my experiences working as a cop.

I know that.

Hundreds of thousands of people have read what I’ve written about my own singular experiences working what have become typical scenes in almost every large urban area. People seem to enjoy being let into areas of a crime scene where a journalist can’t take you, through no fault of their own.

My thoughts and experiences have made many of you laugh and cry. When I read that in a comment, it makes me happy. If you laugh, good. If you cry, good. It means you have a heart, and it gives me hope.

The stories really tell themselves, I’m just spewing words onto a page.

Whether it be about a mom getting shot while pumping gas or one of my simple car stops turning into a sweet moment, I want you to walk in my shoes a little bit and see that there is much good being done in law enforcement, along with some of the bad that does make for better headlines I suppose.

If you walk in the shoes of any working police officer in the City of St. Louis long enough, you’ll see plenty of shit that will make you want to throw your hands up in the air and just give up on humanity.

Many of those moments include gun violence.

Little boys riding in a minivan shouldn’t have to worry about being shot in the chest, but it happens.

Police officers shouldn’t have to worry that every time they put on their uniform, they’re inviting somebody out there to have a shot at them, but we do.

Gun violence is a very real problem in the United States.

We are so jaded in our high opinions of ourselves that we don’t recognize that when it comes to gun violence, the rest of the world is scratching their heads and wondering what the fuck is wrong with the United States?

Sure, gun violence happens elsewhere, but not like it does here.

I’m not even talking about the school shootings or the fact that you can’t take your family to a movie theater or other public gathering without worrying on some level whether or not some lunatic is going to show up and start randomly shooting people.

I’m more concerned with the everyday violence.

Thousands of people will be killed with a gun this year in the United States, yet nothing will be done about it.

Not a thing.


If we’re being honest with ourselves, we don’t care about it as much as we should because when we turn on the news and listen to the every day stories about another person being killed, it’s almost always in the “bad” part of town, far from where those whose opinions really matter live.

You know, those black neighborhoods.

Heroin is a hot button issue today in no small part because it’s mostly rural and suburban white kids who are becoming hooked and dying from its use.

If suburban kids were being gunned down at half the rate as inner-city kids, we’d be inundated with stories and ideas for fixing the problem.

Guns don’t kill people, Don.

I get that.

Even though some comments on my blog posts have insinuated that I’m anti-gun, I’ve never said that.

I’m not, even a little bit.

To infer that I’m anti-gun because I find it fucked up that more women and children are getting shot and killed right along with the young men who’ve always been getting shot and killed is absurd, and part of the reason that gun related discussions aren’t happening.

There’s a difference between gun sense and gun regulation.

I do have guns in my house, obviously, and I worry about them being found by one of my kids, in spite of the measures I take to keep it from happening, because kids are kids. They’re curious.

Every few weeks we read about a child finding a gun and accidentally shooting himself or somebody else.

That’s fucked up.

That’s a lack of gun sense.

If a three year old finds a gun in your house and hurts or kills another person or themselves, then you should be punished.

If your three year old isn’t a lemur or a monkey, then he shouldn’t be able to get it from the top shelf of your closet, or from inside the safe, or he shouldn’t be able to manipulate the gun lock I’m sure you’re using when the gun is being stored.

Gun sense is simply not being negligent with your very dangerous instrument.

Sure, guns don’t kill people, but they make it a whole hell of a lot easier.

Drive by killings with Chinese throwing stars or steak knives or rocks are much more difficult than they are with guns.

It’s just a fucking fact.

Guns don’t belong in the hands of people who can’t be trusted to make rational decisions.

If you’re drunk with your gun, you’ll get arrested.

Certain felons can’t have guns.

Folks who have been institutionalized because they’re mentally deranged can’t have guns.

Possessing a gun unrestricted, isn’t your God given birth right, in spite of your beliefs to the contrary.

Should those of us who are responsible adults be able to own guns?


Any sort of gun we want?

Meh, probably not a great idea that we allow folks to own bazookas or aircraft cannons, but that’s not my call or my concern.

My concern is with the lack of respect people have for guns and their ability to end your life just like that.

My concern is that we aren’t talking about realistic ways to curb the violence and the death.

People making stupid choices with guns is my concern.

Gun suspects being allowed to plea to crimes that won’t prevent them from being able to possess a gun in the future is my concern.

I have many concerns.

My hope is that we can ignore the people on the extreme ends of this issue who won’t listen to anything contrary to their opinions and have an intelligent conversation among those of us in the middle, those of us who want what’s best for our kids and our society.

Whatever that may be.

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On violence and the mental health of police officers…Who cares?

“Why don’t you go back in service, Don.”

It wasn’t a question so much as it was a request. There were enough police officers on the scene and I wasn’t needed anymore, so the sergeant was cutting me loose to go answer more radio assignments.

The scene was just another ordinary Monday morning homicide in the City of St. Louis, you know, the kind where a dude driving down a residential street in the Walnut Park Neighborhood is suddenly violently gunned down by multiple assailants with assault rifles and pistols.

I lost interest in counting at fifty shell casings on the street.

Somebody wanted to make sure this man died, and they got what they wanted for sure.

It was early on a Monday morning, so the crowd for this homicide scene was pretty sparse.

That’s always a blessing as fighting crowds of gawkers with their phones out ready to accuse police officers of being the shooter and shoot video for their YouTube channels is a headache not too high up on the list of things that need to get done to wrap up the initial stage of a homicide investigation.

It helped that many of the lots on this particular street are vacant, long abandoned by people tired of violence and blight, I’m sure.

I never bothered to walk anywhere near the dead man’s body. I’ve seen plenty of dead shooting victims over the years, probably more in the past three years than most non-urban area officers will in their entire careers. I wasn’t one of the first officers on the scene anyhow, and it was already clear that the victim was dead.

As I was standing with one of the first officers on the scene, he told me that when he got there, people were getting madder and madder every time another police car showed up.

“We don’t need anymore fucking police! Where’s the ambulance?” They were yelling.

He was obviously flustered by it.

“You can’t win with some of these people,” he lamented.

“Nope,” I answered.

“There was a better chance of reviving the dead Buick on cinder blocks without an engine across the street than this poor dude,” the officer said. “He was D-E-A-D, but they weren’t having it. Not from us anyway.”

I nodded. I got what he was saying. We aren’t even believed by certain people when we tell them that somebody is dead, even while pointing at a clearly dead person just two feet away as we say it.

The officer could have poked the body with a stick or lit it up with a Taser to prove the man was dead, but they’d still clamor for an ambulance to unnecessarily drive through a crime scene to have an EMS worker reiterate the exact same thing the police had been saying for five minutes.

It’s pathetic and it’s frustrating, but it’s today’s reality.

It was well before noon when I was done with this shooting, so I went back to answering radio calls for the next few hours without ever giving another thought to the dead man from earlier that morning.

After my shift, as I walked past a couple of younger officers, I eavesdropped as they talked excitedly about the earlier homicide.

It was clearly still on their minds, and while I was driving home, I began to think about one of the great absurdities of police work.

I touched on it a little bit when I wrote about the boy we raced to the hospital only to have him die a few months ago. It wasn’t a component of that story that I thought much about, but after we left the hospital, we had to return to work right away.

Here’s a quote from that post:

It’s queer, but I left the hospital and went back in service to handle more calls. I had to handle some subsequent calls with a little dead boy freshly on my mind.

That’s the thing with policing. It never ends. You have to carry on, so I pretended to care about a car accident and a stolen bike when I just wanted to shout in their faces, “AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T DIE AT FIVE YEARS OLD FROM A BULLET THROUGH YOUR CHEST!!! I HAVE NO INTEREST IN YOUR BULLSHIT PROBLEMS RIGHT NOW!”

In nearly 17 years as a police officer, I can remember only one time when I’ve heard anyone ask an officer, myself included, “Are you okay?” after an incident where emotional or mental trauma might be expected.


Run after a suspect or wrestle with one and many people will ask if you’re okay.

They’ll ask about cuts on your face or they’ll ask to make sure you didn’t twist or tear something in an arm or a leg.

The assumption with hearing, “Are you okay?” is never that they’re asking about your psyche when you’ve just tangled with somebody who would rather kill you dead than go back to jail.

Physical injury from running and tackling a bad guy is okay to inquire about, but something that might require some sort of emotional understanding or empathy for another human being is not macho to discuss in police circles.

I get that, but it’s important nowadays more than ever, and thankfully, is being discussed by others.

The Post Dispatch ran a story recently about officers who shot a suspect dead and still aren’t quite right because they probably returned to work too soon, or with too little intervention to make sure everything was indeed okay with them.

I’ve yet to have any training that allows me to dispatch with my heart and soul for eight hour shifts so I can deal with other peoples’ problems like a robot for them without letting it affect me at all.

All the negativity eats at us on some level.

It has to.

A career of dealing with violence and arguments and disturbances and accidents and death over and over again pounds on a person’s mental well being over time, even if we don’t think it does, I’m convinced of it.

Throw the whole Ferguson debacle and its aftermath into the mix and it’s no wonder that officer morale is at an all time low.

In the city, every time there’s a police shooting, no matter how justified it is, we have to defend ourselves both mentally and physically from attacks from the community, mostly the very community that calls 911 to utilize police services more than anybody else.

Facts are irrelevant.

It’s like trying to convince people that the dead person in front of their faces is really dead.

They don’t want to hear it from the police.

Unfortunately, they’ll hear what they want from their pals or community “leaders” on Twitter or Facebook or even some media sources, and the rift between police and the community will widen.

As I finish writing this, it dawns on me that I’ve rambled and never really tied together a point.

I’m listening to the news and hearing a woman blaming the lack of police presence after a Cardinal’s baseball game on her son’s unfortunate robbing and shooting.

Even though I feel for the family, the whole story is making my blood boil, so I’m too distracted to write anymore.

It’s another blow of blame to the police.

The chief of police has called in the FBI to assist in solving this case.

The reality is that there are more officers downtown than anywhere else in the city at any given time, especially when there’s an event such as a Cardinal’s game. This is often the case to the detriment of the other neighborhoods in the City who need us more, neighborhoods like Walnut Park, where dead shooting victims won’t get the courtesy of an FBI intervention to assist in solving their murders.

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It’s a tuesday night…

“I’m scared. Please don’t leave me alone.”

I was standing over a boy with dark curly hair and big brown eyes.

He was sitting on the floor in a back room of a small, two family house with his back against a wall.

The boy was a handsome biracial kid, but the color of his face seemed off to me. It was too pale or something. I knelt down so our faces were about level and said, “You’re doing great, kid. You’re going to be just fine. I’ll be back in a few seconds, I promise.” 

I turned to walk back down the hallway, to the front room where I had entered the house, when the boy spoke again.

“Officer?” The boy asked before I could take a single step away from him.

I turned and noticed that the kid’s big brown eyes were even bigger than they were just three seconds earlier. They’d started to well with tears.

His eyes were pleading with me to do something. 

“Make things right again for me.” Is what I read his eyes to be saying. 

 I waited for him to finish his thought. 

“I’ve never been shot before.”

I nodded my head, then smiled at the boy. 

“Just hang in there; you’re going to be fine, you hear me?”

He smiled the best smile he could muster as he nodded back to me in response. I had one of the other kids stay and talk with my curly haired friend before I hurried back to the front room. 

While the boy with the curly hair and brown eyes was in the back room pondering whatever it is that fifteen year old boys ponder after getting shot in the hip, another boy was laying on his back in the front room, struggling to even take breaths, let alone speak. 

He was in much worse shape.

He was also a brown eyed boy, and his eyes were pleading as well. Not to me, necessarily, but to anybody who might make eye contact with them.

This boy’s eyes were afraid.

They scanned left and right, fast at first, and then slower and slower. 

He had every right to believe that if something didn’t happen for him soon, he was going to meet his maker. His face made me wonder if that’s what was going through his mind, and I felt sorry for him a little bit.

“Keep talking to him like you’re doing,” I told the girl holding his hand as he drifted closer and closer to death.

The girl on the floor with the boy was entirely too young to be dealing with this sort of bullshit. “Keep holding his hand and talking to him. You’re both doing great.”

I tapped the boy on his shoulder and spoke to him briefly.

“Keep your knees bent, son,” I said to him as he tried to straighten out his legs. 

“Keep your knees bent, the ambulance is coming,” I heard the little girl repeat to the boy on his back as I grabbed for my radio. “It’s coming, right?”

I nodded and gave her a thumbs up while I advised the dispatcher that the scene was safe for EMS to enter. 

Now the wait was on for these two boys, shot at the same time in yet another act of depravity towards human life over something quite stupid, I’m sure.

The boy in the front room had been shot in his stomach, at least one time. His blood was on the couch and the floor and he was fading pretty quickly with each passing minute.

He was struggling to breath a little bit, but he was doing well enough that I still had hope that his young life would not end right there in that front room.

I looked around the house and felt bad for all the kids I saw. Some were very young, and others were well into their teens.

Their faces showed shock and pain and fear and disbelief and frustration and anger. Some cried while others just stared in disbelief. Some asked if the boys were going to die. Some begged for somebody to tell them the boys would be okay. Still others stepped up valiantly to help their friends or relatives who’d been shot and answer questions about what happened.

I shook my head knowing that it wasn’t just the two boys who will be scarred by this shooting.

Everybody in that house will be.

EMS arrived and swept the two boys off to one of the best hospitals in the country, and I was certain that this was going to be an assault report, not a homicide.

I was wrong.

A crowd had gathered near the outer fringes of the crime scene, as they so often do.

Just about the time we had finished talking to witnesses and taking our notes, the crowd suddenly moved around the corner and up the street. 

I went to the end of the street and could see a couple of cars stopped in the road with some people gathered around them.

I heard screaming and braced myself for the worst. I thought there was going to be another shooting right there before my eyes.

No shots were fired, but a girl yelled something about somebody being dead.

Officers and onlookers alike ran up the street to where the cars had been. 

I would be lying to say I was even a little stunned when I saw what all the commotion was about.

A teenage boy lay dead on his back in somebody’s front yard, with his arm bent upward holding a cell phone in his hand.

The crowd was pushed back and yet more crime scene tape was put up in North St. Louis City.

It’s become old hat to hang police tape around these parts recently, but there we were again.

This boy was tied to the shooting around the corner, and just like that, the whole mess belonged to our Homicide Unit. I don’t envy them at all these days. The workload has to be staggering and their hours long.

As we stood in the heat of the night I made eye contact with another officer and shook my head.

“It’s a Tuesday night,” I said.

He nodded in understanding. 

The night had already been hectic, especially for a Tuesday. It was call after call after call.

My partner and I had already helped to find guns in a house during a search requested by the homeowner, we’d been to an aid call to assist officers who had to fight with a drug addict in the midst of a simple car stop, and we had to use a Tazer on a guy who threatened us with a hammer.

That was all before the sun went down and the triple shooting happened.

But everyone did what they had to do.

Evidence was collected and witness statements were taken. 

A wailing mother who already had to know the truth was told that her teenage son was dead, and just like that, the crime scene tape came down and everybody left.

Before too long, the spectacle was over and many in the neighborhood wouldn’t know what happened as they slept until they saw it on the news the next morning.

On my way back to suburbia that night, I pulled into a gas station to fill up and get myself a sweet tea.

I wasn’t in my uniform as I filled my cup with ice and eavesdropped on two young municipal officers talking about what a busy night it had been for them up to this point.

“I’ve already handled a car accident report and had to yell at some kids who were dialing 911 while playing on their mom’s phone,” one of the guys boasted to the other, who nodded and said, “Yep, it’s been one of those nights.”

I snickered to myself as I paid for my drink and walked out the door.

Kids playing on the phone and dialing 911 just to see what would happen and not because three of their friends had been shot? 

Now THAT’S a Tuesday night.

Posted in Police Stories | Tagged , , , , , | 66 Comments

Murder? Hmmmph…

“Is he gonna make it?” The woman asked with no real concern in her voice. 

Her tone was so matter of fact that she may as well have been asking me about the weather or how my day was going.

“No,” I said. “I mean, I’m not a doctor, but no, there’s no way he’s going to make it.”

“Hmmmph,” was her response.

Hmmmph indeed. I thought to myself.

The man the woman was asking about lay dying next to his bullet riddled Camaro, about thirty yards away. I’d just asked her and the group she was with to step back a little so that I could hang some crime scene tape at yet another homicide scene in the City of St. Louis.

I don’t keep tabs on such things, but I believe that’s around 136 this year, if what I’d read was right. The local newspaper has taken to adding a line indicating the murder count in all of their articles related to murders in the City, and I believe that’s the number I’d read.

It’s that bad now.

Hmmmph bad.

The lady worked for or maybe owned a day care facility for little kids, and there were still kids waiting to be picked up by loved ones as this man was being tended to valiantly, though clearly futily, by EMS personnel.

As so many other people in the City have been recently, he’d just been shot.

His shirt was off and I could see the small puncture hole in his side. It didn’t look like much, and it certainly didn’t do justice to evidencing the violence that the projectile probably did once it passed through his skin.

Those pesky bullets tear through the skin and then ricochet off bone and tear through organs and veins and arteries and whatever else gets in the way before it either passes through the skin again during a violent exit, or nestles itself comfortably somwhere inside the victim’s body.

The lucky ones live to tell about it.

There are probably hundreds of people who’ve been shot or shot at in the City this year who didn’t add to the death tally. Everyday it seems a person is shot.

We’re lucky in the City to have two excellent trauma units at Barnes and SLU Hospitals. I’m always amazed at the number of people who get shot, sometimes multiple times, and live because of the skill of the teams of doctors and nurses in our City.

Many of these people drive themselves or are driven to the hospital without waiting on EMS. When every second counts, that’s probably a good idea.

For those who aren’t so lucky, their life often ends like this man’s near the daycare facility did, face down on a hot piece of concrete in a pool of their own blood in front of curious onlookers who will photograph or video a dying man’s last moments and do Lord knows what with the footage.


“Well what do you expect? This is Goodfellow and Amelia.” The woman said.

She was mostly being rhetorical, but that attitude can’t win the day. 

No matter where you live or work, a murder should bring outrage or fear or disbelief, not apathy.

Not Hmmmph.

On the day this man died, two journalists were killed in another part of the country as their killer videotaped their deaths.

Thankfully, there is outrage and grief and disbelief. There are loved ones who will demand action. They will demand legislation. They will demand research. They will at least demand something.

They did not say Hmmmph because that is a queer response to another human’s murder, even if the victim was no angel.

Nobody deserves Hmmmph, but in St. Louis City, that’s where we find ourselves. Unless a person is killed by a police officer, there is no public outrage, only indifference to what has become so common that we just say Hmmmph to the news of another person’s death.

Sadly, this murder that I touched on here isn’t even the most recent one in my City. Late last night, another man was killed on the South Side of the City, shot to death, of course.




Posted in Police Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 59 Comments

Here’s how it feels…

“Born Brave was the officer shot last night,” my coworker said as I was slipping my office key into the keyhole to start my Tuesday morning.

“What? What are you talking about?” I responded.

“Sgt. Brave was the cop shot this morning. In the Central West End.”

What the fuck? I thought to myself. I hadn’t heard anything about it.

“He was shot at work?” I asked.

“Yep, he was working secondary. He’s going to be okay though.”

Well, thank God for small miracles.

There was a police sergeant shot, ambush style, on Tuesday morning here in St. Louis. Thankfully, he was wearing his body armor and it saved him from serious bodily injury, and probably from meeting his maker, truthfully.

He was working secondary at 4:30 AM when he was shot by one of four buffoons who jumped out of a car and shot at him as he sat in his personal vehicle watching over local businesses in one of the ever dwindling ritzy parts of the city, the Central West End Neighborhood (“CWE”).

The neighborhood is home to all sorts of people and businesses. Its diversity is part of its charm, really. Every day, the young and old, rich and poor, black/white, gay/straight all go about living their lives together in the CWE.

Unfortunately, the criminal element is represented as well.

People from the area may recognize the neighborhood as being the same one where a young college student was shot and killed, ironically, also while minding her own business in her car.

While there are certainly areas of the City that are much more dangerous, the CWE has money, so the businesses and residents pool together funds and pay officers to provide secondary patrols to supplement the “on-duty” cops who patrol there as well.

When you see officers at Major League Baseball or NFL games, etc. across the country, chances are that they’re working what I’m referring to as secondary. They’re being paid by the team, not the City for which they work.

I’ve mentioned my shifts at the Chicken Palace here before. It’s one of the places where I work secondary.

I often have people come up to me while I’m standing around in the parking lot on a pleasant evening at the Chicken Palace to tell me how lucky I am to have such an easy gig. They think it’s my regular shift, and that I’m being paid by the City when they say it. They don’t get that I most likely already worked my eight plus hours for the City, and that when they tell me how lucky I am, I’m already nine or ten hours into what will be a sixteen hour day away from my wife and kids.

But, I smile and agree that I am quite lucky indeed.

In a way, we really are lucky that there is such a demand for police presence, because businesses are willing to pay off-duty cops to work for them since the on-duty cops can’t be everywhere at once. It’s a way for us to supplement our meager salaries in a way that a lot of other meager salary earners in other professions can’t.

Financially, the extra shifts are nice, but I assure you that any cop you see working at a bar or restaurant or ballgame would much rather be at their son’s baseball game or birthday party or at home rather than working extra shifts so that when the officer does have time to spend with that family, they’ll have some money to do something fun after the bills are paid.

Sergeant Brave had worked his eight hour shift before he went to work secondary for the CWE Neighborhood, so he was no doubt already tired and worn out from a long shift on a hot, summer night in North St. Louis City when he started the extra secondary shift that nearly cost him his life.

I went to the police academy with Sergeant Brave. He is a very likable man. I know that he has a young one at home, probably still in diapers, along with a wife.

They are good people.

They are professionals.

They are educated.

They are giving of their time to help others in their communities.

Also, they are black.

It’s passe to say that the color of the officer’s skin shouldn’t matter, but it clearly does to many, many people.

Whites and others on the side of the police quickly assumed that the race of the officer wasn’t given because he was white. They threw out the usual rhetoric about charging the shooter with a hate crime and how unfair it is that the outrage doesn’t apply when the shooter is a black man instead of a white police officer.

Those on the other side of the fence were quick to throw out their usual all police are cowards, oppressive communists, racists, etc. regardless of their skin color.

If you ever want to see the dregs of society showing their true colors, read the online comments after any news article about a violent police interaction with a black suspect.

I don’t follow the news as a matter of course because I don’t have time for any more negativity in my life, but normally I’d have heard about something like this through the grapevine.

As I settled into my office, I did get a couple of texts and phone calls from people either asking me who was shot, or telling me that they’d heard it was indeed Born Brave who was shot.

The story was true, but sadly, it wasn’t shocking.

Several years ago, news of a police officer getting shot was a big deal.

What was almost unheard of then, is expected to happen now. It’s always just a matter of when.

I was so happy that my friend was okay, and that he was released from the hospital to go home to his wife and small baby boy, a boy who may never realize how close he came to growing up without his daddy, but a part of me was disturbed that I was mostly ambivalent about the whole ordeal.

I was happy for Sergeant Brave, but sad that at least locally, this near tragedy had become less about a good man nearly being murdered just for being a police officer, and more about this.

This idiot.

Photo courtesy of ABC St. Louis KDNL Facebook Page

Photo courtesy of ABC St. Louis KDNL Facebook Page

When a news station posted a picture of this lone person standing in the middle of the street, it immediately went viral and sent both the pro-police and anti-police factions into their tizzies again.

The media loved it, of course, and played it up so that both sides could froth at the mouth about what morons the other side were.

Meanwhile, the condition of the sergeant and the reasons for the shooting were sort of secondary concerns.

Secondary to covering a single man with time to spare on a Tuesday afternoon asking, “How Does It Feel?”

I won’t waste space on my own blog with his name, but since he’s asking a question that I can only assume is directed at police officers, I feel obliged to answer.

How does it feel?

How does it feel for the officer shot to know that but for his vest and better aim, he would be a dead man right now?

Probably scary.

How does it feel for his wife to know that she was almost left on this earth to raise a tiny baby into manhood without the man she loves enough to call her husband to be by her side?

Probably petrifying.

How does it feel if you’re the wife or husband or kids of the other nearly 1200 officers who serve this city to know that they could be next and that they may not be so lucky?

Probably sickening.

How does it feel for the other officers themselves?

Pick a word, pal.

Frustrating. Sad. Pathetic. Shitty.

I’ve spent nearly seventeen years of my life doing the best I can to help people like you there, holding the sign above. To help people like your mother, your siblings, children, your neighbors, everybody who has called because their house was broken into or their car was stolen, or they were assaulted or robbed or whatever.

Ain’t none of them ever called me to tell me they were robbed by a police officer. Nope.

None of the suspects in any of the hundreds or thousands of reports I’ve written over the years was me.

You see, I’ve never killed anybody.

I’ve never shot at anybody.

I’ve never robbed anybody.

I’ve never assaulted anybody illegally.

I’ve never arrested a person I’ve known to be innocent or lied on the witness stand.

I’ve never done anything of the sort, or personally known any of the great officers I’ve worked closely with to do any of these things either, so when you ask, “How Does It Feel?”and you get your fifteen minutes of fame for essentially trying to be a dick, I have to assume you’re talking to somebody besides me or those officers like me.

Maybe you’re talking to the few bad apples that rightfully should be called out, and I hope they find you and answer your question more clearly than I can.

I won’t waste my frustrations on you or others who think it’s okay to harm anybody to make a point, especially an innocent police sergeant minding his own business while trying to make extra money to give his family a better life.

An innocent sergeant like my friend Born Brave.

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Gman’s zero fucks, camping and other nothings for you…

Hot damn, exactly one month between postings. That’s not too shabby.

I know all of you are just dying to know what’s up in my world, so let’s get to it.

We camped.

As a family.

The whole fucking family.


In the woods.

In this thing.

Home sweet home for a couple of nights.

Home sweet home for a couple of nights.

This contraption is hardly roughing it, I know, but it was still rough, since the closest liquor store was nearly an hour away.

The friends we camped with are a hoot. They’re nearly ten years older than we are and drank us under the table by a long shot. The wife and I couldn’t keep up, and that’s even with the children there encouraging us to drink by their very presence.

We only lasted two days and we had to go. The weather was too cold for my big ass to get into the river and it was about to start raining. We’re not savages for God’s sake, so we know rain is God’s way of saying, “Get the fuck out of my forest, DOAT clan!”

We listened.

Hopefully, we get invited again, in spite of our lameness and our children, because with some warmer weather, it’d be a blast to get drunk in the river.

Speaking of children, they’re still around nearly all of the time.

Gman joined me for a bus ride home on the Honkey Bus. He was less impressed than I think he had anticipated being.

I was all excited for this?

I was all excited for this?

He’s very difficult to impress, honestly. He’s too cool for everything, even when he’s asleep.

Giving zero fucks in my sleep.

Giving zero fucks in my sleep.

He started his athletic career with some tee ball. He’s also mostly unimpressed with that as well.

Giving zero fucks while playing defense.

Giving zero fucks while playing defense.

That’s Gman on the left, fully immersed in the ballgame to even hear his father imploring him to pretend as though he’s interested in anything but the post game snacks.

He’s able to maintain focus long enough to swing the pink bat (coed team) that he enjoys and occasionally runs in the direction of first base without much prompting.

Getting ready to battle the tee.

Getting ready to battle the tee.

This is actually a swing.

Lefty swinging pinky.

Lefty swinging pinky.

I do my imploring from the sidelines, as a spectator and not his coach. Gman is what we like to euphorically call “strong-willed,” so rather than risk the same head to head confrontations I had with Ace when I coached her as a 4 year old, I’m deferring to strangers to coach this child. I still coach Cool’s team because Cool is easy like Sunday morning, whatever that means.

Speaking of Cool, he got to hang with daddy at a bar finally. It turns out he enjoys playing pool and Golden Tee nearly as much as his old man. He was cracking me up with his focused squinty eye thing while taking his shots with the pool cue.

Such focus!

Such focus!

Cool gets very into whatever it is he’s doing and is way too hard on himself when he sucks, because being six isn’t a good enough excuse for sucking at things apparently.

One thing he most certainly doesn’t suck at is being a great big brother. The boys got to walk around Busch Stadium last week and they had a jolly old time with it.

Brothers getting along, briefly.

Brothers getting along, briefly.

Cool looks legit and Gman is at least wearing shoes.

Cool looks legit and Gman is at least wearing shoes.

Other than that, life is as always around these parts.

I had a brief affair with a $100 bill recently.

I sat in my driveway in suburban America with my bill and my beer and waited for something to happen.


Waiting pensively.

Waiting pensively.

But nothing did.

The suburbs are so boring sometimes.

Nobody tried to rob me or ask me for money or cigarettes, or to inquire as to whether I wished to purchase my own stolen lawn mower back.

I sat out there with my bill and my beer for almost an hour and all I heard were birds.

Stupid birds.

I sometimes miss living in the city. The soothing sounds of traffic and sirens and gunshots is hard to let go.

Anyway, that bill is long gone, as is my beer and my desire to write anymore of this post.

How have all you been? Top notch I pray!

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Just writing some words here…

Pay me no mind, it’s been a long two months since I’ve written anything, and I had a sudden urge to type some words onto a page, so here I am.

As some of you may remember, the last blog post here was about a little boy who was shot in the chest and ultimately ended up dying, in spite of the best efforts of my fellow police officers to save him.

I posted about the tragedy after work.  It was a late Wednsday night, well, actually, it was Thursday morning. I went to bed after 2am and woke up to work my secondary job the same morning at 6.

Comments came in on the post as usual, and I noticed that a few people had shared it on Facebook or whatever, and then somehow, it was all over the place. I was working, so I didn’t really appreciate how fast it had taken off.

City leaders shared it. Friends shared it. Even my own wife shared it.

That’s how I know when something I write is good. The wife doesn’t share my crap, which is most of what I post here. She reads it all I think, but she doesn’t share or make mention of the posts that are just meh to her.

Anyway, it went batshit crazy in ways I can’t even describe.

The local newspaper printed it using an entire page of the paper. called to talk to me about it.

It was flattering and humbling and lots of good stuff, but at the same time, it was very uncomfortable too.

There was a little boy dead, and that was a terrible reason for a blog post to go viral. I wasn’t the cop who drove in the car with the boy or carried him into the hospital. I think there was some confusion about that too. 

All I did was write.

I wrote to make myself feel better and move on. That the story was gripping had nothing to do with me. It was a gripping incident without my involvement. I didn’t deserve any credit for that.

Still, some good things came of it. The family of the little boy wrote the officer who carried him a “thank you” note. It was so sweet of them. The officer showed it to me one day. He was carrying it around in his breast pocket. 

The case remains unsolved, as far as I know. It’s still open.

As for me, I’m not on the streets anymore.

I was transferred to the police academy where I’m teaching new recruits Constitutional and Statutory Law, and I love it.

I made them read that blog post in class. 

The point of doing so was to give them a sense of what can happen on this job in the blink of an eye. I also wanted them to read the comments. There are a lot of people out there who, rightfully or not, hate the police, but that’s not the majority and they need to remember that. There were hundreds of supportive comments.

People want to trust and respect the police, so it’s important that these new officers understand that they have the power to make a positive impact on people’s lives. They can help us to earn respect back by simply being decent human beings. It’s not that hard, but it is hard sometimes too. 

I’m in a good place right now mentally. There’s a lot to be said for looking forward to going to work.

As for the family, things are great. Cool is going to take second grade math as a first grader next year because he’s apparently bright or some shit, and Gman didn’t bite anybody in preschool all year, so there’s that. Ace is doing great as usual too. I’m not looking forward to her becoming a teenager in a couple of years, but it’s coming.

Our beloved, well she was beloved at some point, dog Jojo had to be put down, so it’s not all been peaches and Bud Light Lime over here. I was in denial about how bad she was, but she was pretty bad.

I took her in myself since she was my before famiy dog and cried nearly the entire time. Blubbering even at times, but whatever. She was a part of my life for 14 years. I miss her. We all do.

I’m hoping that my better mood will inspire me to be a more consistent writer. I’m even kicking around writing a book, but that’s mostly just a thought in the way back of my head. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

I hope all is well with you and yours as well.

I know this post was pretty lame since it was mostly for my own sake, a reason to put some words on a page to get back into it, but thanks for reading anyway!

Posted in Uncategorized | 86 Comments

A senseless death…

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at the same time.

He and his partner parked and I pulled up to their left and did the same.

I got out of my car and watched as the officer hurried from his seat and opened the back, driver’s side door.

When the officer grabbed the boy from the back seat of his police Tahoe, I knew almost instantly.

There was a split second though, before instantly I guess, where I didn’t know. For that split second, the officer looked like any dad grabbing his sleeping boy from the car and putting the boy’s head on his shoulder to carry him inside to sleep comfortably in his own bed.

For that split second, it was a sweet moment.

The officer, an around fifty year old white guy, clutched the little boy over his left shoulder gently, but with a clear purpose. The boy was small, a black child with his hair in corn rows and dressed as a typical five or six-year-old dresses.

He reminded me of my own six-year-old son.

The sudden, pained look on the officer’s face and the fact that the boy wasn’t crying or yelling or doing anything other than appearing to be asleep made the split second fantasy fade away fast.

We hurried into the emergency room where we were met by the trauma team and hospital staff. I’m always in awe at how these emergency room doctors and nurses and staff are so able to get to working on a patient so fast.

There was some sliver of hope that the boy would make it, at least that’s what we all wanted to believe.

The truth, and I think we all knew it, was that this boy would never fall asleep in his own bed again. When the officer laid the boy down on the gurney and stood back upright, any wind that may have been in my sails quickly faded to nothing.

His shirt said it all.

FullSizeRender (5)

Where the boy’s little heart had laid so close to the officer’s own heart, was a mess that told us things would not end well.

The three of us officers, with nearly fifty years of city police experience under our collective belts, waited not so stoically outside of trauma room two as the doctors and nurses busted their tails to save this little guy.

We paced and exchanged awkward smiles with each other and the nurses and staff who were passing by. There were several times when one or all of us was close to tears, but we held it together.

It was hard for the officer, because he did the best he could and it wasn’t going to be enough. It was hard for me, because I have a son about that age at home and couldn’t imagine anything like this happening to him.

It was awkward because we were all hoping, but we also knew that it was going to take a miracle for that boy to live.

He was not granted that miracle.

Just like that, at a couple of minutes after 8pm, a five-year old boy was gone forever.

The sheet of paper, which I’ve seen way to many times, verified it. It’s the one with a line printed on it. When it’s completely straight, you’ve died. You’ve straight-lined, as they say.

I was done with being in the hospital. I wanted to leave.

To go back to my car, I had to walk past the same group of people who were in the waiting room when we walked past them earlier with the dying boy. Three little boys grabbed at me and asked me if that boy we carried in earlier was dead.

“Did he die, officer? Was that boy dead?” They asked me.

I got no help from their mom, as she was tending to a clearly sick kid of her own.

“Boys, he’s fine. He’s a strong boy, just like you guys.”

I felt bad lying, but it seemed easier than having to explain death to three strange kids all under ten years old.

I went to my car and grabbed a bunch of Dum-Dums from the bag I carry around. Mom was cool with me giving them suckers, and they left me alone about the dead boy they still thought was alive.

I couldn’t tell them that the boy who was about their same age had straight-lined.

Five-year olds shouldn’t straight line.

Why did this one?

Because of gun violence in the city.

The weather was nice so the people were out.

Some people were out with their guns.

Why did this boy have to die?

Was it disrespect?


A woman?


All stupid reasons to fire a gun anywhere near another human being, let alone children, but here we are again, with another child lost to violence.

We tried to save this boy.

The officer showed up and there was a hostile crowd of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the shooting, and most not even sure what they should be angry at. The were just angry because anger is easy. Patience is hard. Kindness in the face of adversity is hard. Understanding is hard.

Some chose to be angry at the police while others were taking video on their phone. Meanwhile, nobody was helping a child as he lay dying on the sidewalk from a bullet that had torn through his little body.

The officer fought through the angry crowd and put a dying boy he didn’t know in his car.

Did he have to do that?


EMS was coming, but they were too far away. It was too risky to wait for them, so we raced that little guy to the hospital in record time. We had all sorts of cars shutting down the route to the hospital, just like we would were a fellow cop shot and in need of medical care. That’s about the highest honor we can give a person, and this boy deserved it.

Still, it didn’t matter on this night.

I truly believe that when it’s your time, it’s your time.

Five years shouldn’t be anyone’s time, but that’s not my call.

It’s queer, but I left hospital and went back in service to handle more calls. I had to handle some subsequent calls with a little dead boy freshly on my mind.

That’s the thing with policing. It never ends. You have to carry on, so I pretended to care about a car accident and a stolen bike when I just wanted to shout in their faces, “AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T DIE AT FIVE YEARS OLD FROM A BULLET THROUGH YOUR CHEST!!! I HAVE NO INTEREST IN YOUR BULLSHIT PROBLEMS RIGHT NOW!”

But that’s not professional.

I’m wrapping this up having finished a six pack of Bud Light Lime and I just kissed all three of my own sleeping kids as well as my wife. I also laid on the ground and wrestled my dogs at 2 am, even though one of them is dying and has no interest in playing, and I have to work in the morning.

I’m still thinking about a boy I never met alive, and hoping he’s in a better place.

I’m looking at my own six year old’s homework folder and wondering if this dead boy has a homework folder in a backpack never to be turned in again. Will his mom see it when she gets home and cry? Did he have a lunch packed for the next day that will still be in the fridge this weekend to remind his family of a lunch that was never taken to school?

Did he go to kindergarten?

Will somebody have to explain to his classmates that they’ll never see this little guy alive again and why?

This is all too sad and it needs to stop.

Someone please figure out how.

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