Floods and shootings and happiness galore…

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I like to sit down and just write whatever comes to me. If that’s nothing, then so be it, but if something does come to me, then I like to get it all out in one sitting. I don’t like to stop and then finish a post on another day. It’s why I have over 150 drafts of posts that were started, but never finished.

It’s just my way.

I mention that as an introduction to my apology for those of you expecting the part 2 of 2 from this post a few weeks ago.

I think I inadvertenly mislead you into believing that there was a subsequent encounter with the same kid mentioned in that post, but that wasn’t the case at all. That I’m aware, I never saw that kid again and I have no idea what he is doing with his life right now, if he’s even still alive.

My part two was going to be about how we police communities and why I think we could do a better job of it by getting police officers to take responsibility for certain neighborhoods, like we used to do. Somewhere in that point, the story about the kid in part one tied into it by showing how a responding officer who didn’t know that kid may have been quicker to think the worst than an officer who did know this kid and his issues and would be more apt to find a better outcome.

I still believe in this, but that post can wait for another day.

Shortly after that post, when I swear I was going to write the follow-up, we got stranded in our neighborhood by a pissed off Mother Nature.

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The river belongs at the bottom of that hill with the house on it, not on the road where this woman is standing.

We were stuck.

For over two days.

We almost ran out of beer.

Almost.

But at least we were dry, unlike much of the rest of our town.

Our main street through town was underwater, and the small businesses are mostly still closed, though they’re working hard to reopen.

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Lloyd Photography

In our very own hood, of course somebody had a medical emergency and paramedics had to try to get her from dry land through what would have been nearly a mile on the water to more dry land.

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It wasn’t working out, so she ended up being air lifted to a hospital.

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It felt a little weird being one of the people stranded instead of being one of the people waiting to get the call to help somebody.

I wasn’t complaining, because again, we never did run out of beer, but it was close.

Sometime on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, we were able to get to the store to replenish for the NYE party.

See? The road is back.

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Even Gman was happy to get out of the house to the grocery store.

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He’s standing in front of the donuts, so that may have had something to do with his “enthusiasm.”

Anyway, we survived the floods, but it distracted me from posting like I wanted to for sure.

In the meantime, I was contacted by a reporter from a local paper called The Riverfront Times.

He wanted to write a story about this blog, so I sat down and talked with him for a couple of hours. Once I get to talking, I go on and on, so I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I said. That makes me nervous. I’m sure I said some derivation of fuck at least ten times. Let’s hope that gets edited out.

We’ll see though. It comes out on Wednesday. If it’s not too embarrassing or damning, I’ll post a link to the Donofalltrades Facebook page. Otherwise, pretend I never brought it up.

I’ll wrap this post up with a shake of my head at the community I live in again, and of course, it centers around violence.

People waking up to the paper on this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day were treated to the usual Monday full of news, including the shooting of a fourteen year old girl under suspicious circumstances, and the shooting of an armed robber by a police officer.

Ironically, the fourteen year old girl was shot (and killed) just a few blocks from Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., and the robber was shot during an MLK march in South City.

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Of course the police related shooting is the one that’s front and center, because it’s more “newsworthy.” I know this because there are nearly 300 comments on the police shooting and fourteen on the article written about the little girl.

Again, a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD girl has been shot in the back and killed, but we’re going to have to hear about the seemingly justified shooting of a grown ass man caught in the middle of his attempted armed robbery of an occupied fast food restaurant.

The officer was flagged down by a witness who told him the restaurant was being robbed, and because he’s a police officer, he went immediately there instead of ignoring the person or driving somewhere else, and sure enough, there was a robbery in progress.

I can’t get into details, because I don’t know anything beyond what I’ve read in the paper about this incident. Maybe there will be video that shows what happened, I hope there is, and I hope it shows the officer did exactly what he was trained to do.

What’s he trained to do?

If he feels as though his life is threatened and in danger, or the lives of others are in danger, then he is trained to put a stop to that threat.

An armed person is a threat.

End of story.

Have a gun and an officer is in the same room with you?

You best be dropping it before the officer even has to order you to do so, and if you don’t do it immediately upon our telling you to then we’re going to go ahead and assume that you are plotting bad things in your head and will shoot you.

That’s just the way it is.

If you think I’m going to wait until you start to raise your arms while holding the gun, or get a shot off first, then you’re fucking crazy.

Absolutely FUCKING CRAZY!

You see, we have sons and daughters and moms and dads and grandmas and dogs and cats, and all these folks like to see us come home safely at the end of our shift, even if some of you out there don’t.

I’ll wait to see what comes out of this shooting with respect to evidence and community reaction before I judge too harshly, but it’s frustrating that there’s a rush to judgment by people with no clue, when a police officer does what he thinks/hopes is the right thing, but the death of a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL to gun violence is just another secondary article in a paper constantly generating articles about guns and violence and kids caught in the middle of both.

I pray we as a society can get our heads out of our asses pretty soon with respect to guns and violence and what we expect of our police officers, because the status quo just isn’t working for me.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Simple policing, (Part 1 of 2)

I was reminded of this call last week as I was talking to the new recruits about my opinions on policing. I’ll wrap it up with a point in a part 2 later this week.


 

At only fifteen years old, he was a good sized kid already, maybe six three or four and built solidly.

Most people would never guess the boy to be anything but a man, certainly eighteen at least, but that wasn’t the case.

We first met when his mother called about him trashing the front room of their quaint two bedroom duplex one day.

Trashed may have been an understatement.

He destroyed it, really.

I walked into the house to find the coffee table turned over onto its side, one leg was broken off completely and magazines and books had fanned out onto the floor. They were covered in red juice and unswallowed pills that were also victims of the overturning table.

A lamp in the corner still shone brightly, though it lay horizontally on the ground, its shade nowhere to be found.

Family and friends smiled happily from broken glass and busted picture frames scattered about the floor.

They were speechless witnesses to a man child’s tantrum.

The woman had summoned me into her home before I’d even reached the screen door. I’d heard the sound of crashing and breaking and yelling all the way from the street, but it was quiet now.

“Come on in, officer. He’s in the middle room. Please don’t hurt him,” she said as she wiped tears from a face that had clearly neared its breaking point.

She was staring at my night stick. It was over two feet long, thick and heavy wood with brass tips at both ends. It was an intimidating tool. A hole at the fatter end of the stick allowed for a leather rope to pass through. The rope allowed for twirling of the stick in times of boredom, and kept it from flying out of an officer’s hand in times of the opposite of boredom.

In the days before Tazers, night sticks or, “batons,” were the go to instrument to use where mace and hand to hand maneuvers weren’t going to do the job but deadly force was too much.

“Nobody is going to get hurt, ma’am,” I said with some trepidation while noticing an upside down recliner partially impaling some drywall.

I certainly  hoped that would be the case.

I peered around the wall into the middle room and saw the man sitting in a chair at a dining room table. His forehead was resting on his forearms and his eyes were closed. He was sweating and breathing hard.

Jesus, I thought to myself. Why are the craziest ones always so big?

By this time, another officer had arrived.

“This place is a goddam mess,” she exclaimed before she even said hello. I wanted to club her with my stick and tell her to shut the fuck up. She had more time on than I did, but she was, quite frankly, dumb as a bag of hammers and much less useful. I hated answering calls with her, but it was marginally better than dealing with disturbances alone.

I gave her a nasty glare that must’ve made its point because her smile disappeared instantly and she appeared more focused on the matter at hand.

I tucked my stick into its metal loop on the back of my belt, so it wasn’t the first thing the man would see when he finally looked up.

“What’s going on?” I asked the woman.

Even though I was relatively new, I’d handled enough calls in the busy Third District to know what was coming next.

“He hasn’t been taking his medicine,” the woman answered.

“AND I AIN’T GONNA!”

The man was paying attention now.

“Who is he to you?” The other officer asked. “Is he your boyfriend?”

The woman chuckled for a second before taking a deep breath and telling us that he was her son.

“He’s my middle boy. He’s fifteen.”

I peered around the corner at the man again. He wasn’t quite a man after all. He was a man child.

“He’s fifteen?” I said, probably sounding incredulous.

“He’s a big one,” the woman continued. “Like his daddy and brothers.”

We talked about his history and which hospital he normally went to when he lost control.

The woman mentioned that the boy liked football, so that’s what I talked to him about to earn a little bit of trust and keep him from flying off the handle. The Greatest Show on Turf was still a pretty great conversation starter for football fans back then, so we shared tales of our favorite memories of Warner, Faulk, Bruce and Holt. I really enjoyed that time talking to him.

With some persuasion from his mom and my two cents every now and then, the boy agreed to go to the children’s hospital for treatment.

EMS came inside and they went through much of the same conversation with the woman and her son again.

When the man child finally stood up to go to the ambulance, I noticed the paramedics look at each other with what I wouldn’t quite describe as amazement on their faces, but it was close. Disbelief was maybe a better word.

One of them looked at his chart and as he was flipping pages said, “I thought you said he was fifteen?”

“He is. He’s a big one,” the woman said.

Like his dad and brothers, I thought to myself.

I wondered where they were and why mom was dealing with this alone.

The kid was carted off to the hospital that day and I had several uneventful run-ins with him again during my time on that beat. I stopped and talked to him from time to time, and found him to be quite affable and pleasant when he was taking his medicine. He was always calm and easy going after that initial meeting.

And then one day he wasn’t.

This time it was a similar call as before, but a knife was involved. The dispatcher said that man child was waving a butcher knife around and threatening his family members.

I was the second officer on the scene this time, and sure enough, the man child had a knife.

He was on the front porch alone, ranting and raving about nothing to nobody in particular.

The first officer on the scene had his hand on his gun, but it was still holstered. He was standing in the street, with the car between him and man child for cover.

After a few moments, I noticed mom hustling up the sidewalk. Winded, and with the same defeated look as before, she said she’d gone out the back to the alley and came up to meet us in front.

“I’m glad I got here before you shot him,” she said. “Please don’t hurt him.”

I winced at those words.

“He needs his medicine, doesn’t he?” I asked knowing the answer. “You want us to get him to Children’s Hospital again?”

“Oh, I remember you!” The woman said as she caught her breath and looked at me. She seemed relieved a little bit. “You was here with that little black girl police officer last time he went off his meds.”

“I AIN’T GOING TO NO HOSPITAL!”

Man child had chimed in from the porch.

Without missing a beat, momma yelled back at him,”You put down that knife or you might go to the hospital with a bullet in yo ass! These boys ain’t here to fuck around wit you!”

I laughed a little bit. Momma’s tenacity was a thing to behold. I could tell she was a good woman. She was a good mom trying her best.

“He’ll be death of me that boy,” she said to us.

Man child put his knife down and cooler heads prevailed. We all talked about him playing high school football and he agreed to go to the hospital again.

“That kid was fifteen?” The other officer asked as we walked back to our cars.

“Yup.”

“Jesus,” he said. “I really thought I was going to have to shoot him.”

We parted ways in our separate patrol cars without speaking another word.

 

 

 

Posted in Police, Police Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Amazon customer support…

 

What is going on with Amazon Prime? We had a Prime account and were able to share it with people we liked and not just our family. When the Wife accidentally revoked her dad’s shared account, she tried to reinstate him and couldn’t. Come to find out that Amazon dicked around with their Prime and now we couldn’t do what we were doing even though Amazon never said anything about changing the policy.

When she chatted online with them to get it taken care of, she told the chat guy to cancel the account altogether and he did! We were bluffing in the hopes that he would fix the problem, but instead, he showed us.

Anyway, I went online after that to fix the mess and the following (copied and pasted from the chat) happened between me and my new friend from the Philippines, Macy or Andrea or whoever:

——————–

You are now connected to Andrea from Amazon.com

Me: You cancelled our Prime Membership! I would like to speak with a manager.

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

You are now connected to Amazon from Amazon.com

Amazon: Hi, this is Macy and i’ll be more than happy to assist you.

Hi, this is Macy, I’m one of the supervisor here on Amazon customer service.

Me: My wife and i had prime and she accidentally deleted her dads shared membership.

Amazon: I’m sorry to hear that your Prime membership was cancelled.

Me: Then they wouldn’t reinstate it for some reason.

It sounds like some shady trickery to me. What’s up with the shady trickery?

Amazon: No worries, let me just check what would be the best thing that i can do for you.

Me: thank you.

Amazon: Your very much welcome. Hold on just a minute.

Me: My wife is very much sad about this. She was wishing to purchase some jean shorts and pink flamingo yard decor, but now, without the 2 days free shipping, she can’t.

Amazon: Here’s what she can place the order and i will remove the shipping charge for the order.

Me: But what about the membership that we had? She wants it back and is mad at me that it got cancelled. She blames me for the cancellation even though I am innocent.

She misses her Prime.

Amazon: I’m still checking what would be the best thing that we can do.

Me: Are you able to see our old Prime Membership?

Amazon: Can i have her email address.

Me: [email address given]

Amazon: Thank you. Let me verify it.

Can i have the name followed by her billing address on her account.

Me: Her name is Wife – [address given here]

Amazon: Great. Thank you.

Since it was deactivated on her account and the refund has already been processed. Would you like me to reactivate her Prime Membership?

Me: Would it be reactivated to the way it was this morning? with the same shared people?

Please help us. If we don’t have Prime tonight then we won’t have anything to watch on television. If we can’t watch television then she’ll drink and want to fornicate. She’s a large woman, so that is very unpleasant for me, and I’m no looker, so she’s not a fan of it either.

It’s Friday here where I live in the St. Louis, MO area. Are you in the United States too? Making small talk while we wait for you to fix my mistake. Is it your Friday as well?

Amazon: I don’t have any information right now if you shared again your prime to your Family Members.

Me: We were able to share our Prime with 4 people before.

Amazon: Can you subscribe again instead of reactivating it on our account.

Me: We shared it with our elderly parents because they enjoyed the free shipping.

Amazon: I understand. Can you subscribe again and lets see if you can share it with other benefits.

Me: Are we able to share a new benefit with other people?

Amazon: Only with Family members only.

Me: They won’t pay to have their senility pills and erectile dysfunction pills shipped. Good Lord, if we screwed this up they’ll be calling us all the time! Do you have parents too? So awful on the phone!

That’s not how it used to be. That’s what I’m telling you is trickery!

You tricked us!

Amazon: This is not a trick.

Me: It was. You changed the Amazon Prime sharing benefits and didn’t tell anybody about it. That’s trickery.

And right before Christmas too. Shame on your employer. Amazon used to be customer friendly.

Amazon: Give me just one moment to check it.

Me: Maybe not you personally, but somebody who makes a paycheck with a bunch of zeros in it made that decision.

Were you not told about this new policy?

Amazon: We can only share our Prime Membership for adults and children.

In the family members.

Me: Well, that’s how it used to be as well. We could share it with any adult or children, and that was a good policy because we shared it with our dog, Carly, and she kept ordering biscuits without asking. But now, you will only let us share with family members and that’s not fair. that’s not what the policy was!!! We don’t get to pick our family members, because we’re born or they’re born to us and it’s not our choice. Family can be the worst. That’s why the old way of getting to share with anybody was great. We don’t have a lot going for us, so sharing our Amazon Prime was a great way to make friends with people at the mall or the couple across the street who we think are swingers. YOU CHANGED THE POLICY AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE! THAT’S TRICKY!

If you can’t help me or just don’t want to because you don’t like me or think I’m ugly, then can I please speak to YOUR supervisor? Who’s running the show there tonight?

Amazon: I’m sorry but we cannot control our policy.

Me: But who can?

If you can’t control it, who can?

Somebody changed it. Let me talk to him or her. I bet it’s a guy named Luke or a woman named Carla because Luke and Carlas are always the worst.

Except for my godson, Luke. He’s okay people.

Let me speak to Luke or Carla.

Amazon: I understand that you wanted to share the benefits with other people. But no one can control of it.

Me: But just this morning we were able to do that! What changed in the past 12 hours?

LET ME SPEAK TO ANOTHER! I can’t believe that there’s NOBODY there who can help me resolve this.

This is resolvable, Macy.

Crap sorry. I mean Andrea! Let’s fix this!

Amazon: How i wish i do have the option to break our policy or manipulate our system so that i could help you.

Me: When did this new policy take affect? Do you know?

Do you remember when I was able to share with non family members, Andrea? Do you remember yesterday when I could do that?

Amazon: When was the last time?

Me: When we woke up this morning my mom and my mother in law had the benefit of our shared account.

Then my wife accidentally revoked her dad because she’s jittery with a mouse because it reminds her of my penis. Don’t ask. Anyway, she accidentally revoked her dad and when she went to reinstate him, Amazon told her that she couldn’t because of a new policy. A new WTF policy?

So when she couldn’t reinstate her dad, she told some guy named Nomar or something to just cancel the whole thing and he did! He called her bluff real good and cancelled it.

Well, somehow, that was my fault and now we’re here.

Having this conversation in the hopes that you will make things right for Christmas.

Do you believe in Christmas, Andrea?

Or any other of the nearby dated holidays like Kwanza or the Jewish one I can’t spell? Chanukah? Whatever.

Amazon: That is why , if you want to continue your prime sharing. you could just subscribe again and try it if you could share it with your family members.

Me: But can my mom, for example, use her own account to order stuff? Or is she going to have to be under our account to do that?

She doesn’t live in the same house with us.

Not yet anyway, and we’re hoping that never happens, if I’m being honest.

Amazon: Who is exactly the owner of the Prime?

Me: It’s my wife and i. We are the Prime owners.

Under her email that I gave you before.

Amazon: Your mom can use her account to order her stuff.

Me: and get the 2 day shipping for free under the Prime whatever?

Amazon: Yes it is.

Me: Why did they tell us we had to be under the same account and share credit card numbers?

It sounded very cultish.

Are you currently in the United States, Andrea? I feel like you avoided that question for some reason. It’s just small talk while we wait for this to be resolved.

Amazon: What i mean is, right now. she could use her account to buy stuff that she wanted.

I’m from the Philippines.

Me: She can’t use Prime right now though because it was cancelled!

Is the Philippines nice? I’ve heard it was.

Amazon: Yes it is. It is very nice.

Me: Do you know what’s sad though? It would take me a while to find it on a map because Americans are really dumb.

Do you guys think Americans are imbeciles over there?

We really are, and i’m not even talking about Trump and his people.

Amazon: If the order is eligible for free shipping then she will not be paying for the shipping charge.

Me: But we don’t have prime right now. My account says so. My wife shared her Prime with me but now it’s gone.

Your name isn’t really Andrea either, is it!?

Amazon: That is why , you ca subscribe again so that you can share it.

My name is Macy.

I am advising you to subscribe again with your Prime so that you can share it.

Me: Okay, Macy, I’m going to trust you when you say that I can share my account with people who don’t live in my house but are my relatives. Are we on the same page?

Amazon: It was refunded back into full amount anayways.

Me: So I can subscribe again and share with people who don’t live with me and have their own accounts like before?

I’m going to trust you because I just read that the Philippines is the 7th most populous country in Asia. Is that true as well?

Amazon: Let me just check if could transfer you to the right department.

I think i’ll be needing to transfer you over to kindle support so that they could discuss this better for you.

Me: Kindle!??

No no no!!

This is a prime issue, not a Kindle issue.

Optimus Prime! Let me speak to Optimus!

Amazon: But they do handle Prime Household issues.

Me: Oh, okay. Are you married?

Amazon: Are you going to create again a Prime Household?

Me: I was waiting for my questions to be answered first. You know that $99 is a lot of money, right? A LOT!

Amazon: If that’s the case then i will be transferring you over to Kindle Department.

Me: Will they be able to activate our account?

Amazon: We’ve process refund of your prime. you need to subscribe so that you could create Amazon Household.

Me: Right, see there? Amazon Household sounds like something different. I just told you that my mother and mother in law don’t live in my household.

But you said that they could use our Prime under their accounts using their credit cards, right?

I think you said that before, when you weren’t answering my question about whether or not you were married.

Amazon: I am not a married person.

Me: Well you should be. You’re obviously very patient and sound like an intelligent and wonderful woman!

You are a woman, right?

Amazon: Are you going to create again Amazon Household?

Me: I didn’t have Amazon Household before, I had Amazon Prime and was able to share that. Is it the same thing?

Amazon: Thanks for that compliment.

Me: Do you get a commission if I do sign up?

Amazon: You can share your prime membership by creating amazon household.

Me: See, you avoided the question again.

Amazon: What commission are talking about here?

Me: Do you get some extra pay, if I sign up with you?

Amazon: No.

Me: Oh, well that stinks.

Amazon: Do you want to create Amazon Household to share your Prime benefits?

Me: Is it morning where you are?

Do you live near Manila?

Amazon: Yes it is.

Me: Oh, it’s night here.

Amazon: Is there anything else that i can assist you with today?

Me: Are you enjoying some coffee and banter with your coworkers, or is Amazon a bunch of hard asses?

Well, there is this whole thing with our Prime account.

Are you in charge of the whole building there?

Amazon: I’m sorry i’m not comfortable with this kind of conversation.

Me: Lol. Wink wink. Ok. I get that. Hard asses it is.

Amazon: Would there be anything else that i can assist you with?

Me: Okay, well i guess reinstate our crap and if it doesn’t work like you said the we can cancel again, right?

Amazon: As it was mentioned. you have been refunded back back and all you have to do is subscribe again.

Me: So we should do that under the same email account?

or does that matter?

Amazon: You can subscribe again your Prime. And create Amazon Household to share your prime membership.

There is only one who will own the prime membership so that you can share it.

Me: Okay, well clearly this isn’t going to go as I hoped, but I do appreciate your time and attempt to satisfy me. I know a guy who is a ninja. We will get into Amazon HQ and speak with the bastard in charge. Me and ninja will get this done. Thanks!

Amazon: I’m going to ask again, Would you like to create an Amazon household so that you can share it.

Okay/

Me: Sure.

Amazon: Thanks for contacting.

Me: Are you going to do it for me?

It sounded like i had to go do it myself.

Amazon: I’ll be transferring you to Kindle Department so that they could better assist you.

Kindly stay for a moment.

Me: Ok. Thank you again, Macy!

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: One moment please

Me: It’s been two moments now, wtf?

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: As musch as i would love you to transfer to the right department. Can you contact us again through phone so that we could transfer you over.

Me: Amazon is a billion dollar internet/technology related company. You can’t transfer me online?

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

 

Amazon: Can you contact us through phone?

They will be able yo transfer you over.

Me: We don’t have a phone at home because we’re very poor for Americans, but if you give us your phone number, I can try to call you from work on Monday, as long as it’s local.

Amazon: This is out hotline number.

Me: Hotline? Is that like emergency?

I don’t want to busy the emergency number.

Amazon: I’m sorry. Phone number.

Me: Oh, thank you. Well, it’s been a pleasure. I’ll talk to you on Monday, I guess.

Amazon: Thanks for ocntactin.

Have a great day.

Im going now ti disconnect the chat.

Amazon from Amazon.com has left the conversation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Murder and deadly force are different

I’ve seen murder.

I’ve seen dead bodies in cars, hanging out of cars, holding phones and other items in their hands even though they were dead, inside homes, on the street, in yards, some alone, some with loved ones nearby, murder just everywhere.

Dozens of dead bodies, all strangers, over the course of almost two decades of policing one of the most violent cities in America will forever haunt my thoughts and dreams until the day that I breathe my last breath.

I don’t recall every person who met their demise during one of my shifts, but many I do, and their last resting place before being zipped into a body bag remain vivid in my mind.

Murder.

Murder is heinous and cold and brutal and unnecessary. Murder is unforgivable.

When we charge somebody with murder, we are, for all intents and purposes, ending their lives as they’ve known it, because conviction will mean a good chunk of their life behind bars, if not the rest of it completely.

Police officers are charged with protecting people and property, and in doing so, we’re allowed leeway to use force, even deadly force.

Let’s repeat that.

Police officers can use deadly force, if necessary, to do our jobs. I was given a gun by the police department to wear on my belt. I HAVE to wear it to work. It’s expected, in fact. If an officer can’t be trusted to pull the trigger on a person who threatens their own life or the life of another officer or civilian, then that person should find other work.

They will get somebody hurt or killed.

Yup, police officers can and sometimes must use deadly force. That’s just a fact. A reality of policing in America.

But we can’t murder.

It’s rare that an officer’s use of deadly force is deemed murder, so I was curious about what happened in Chicago. I wanted to see what that “murder” looked like, so against my normal habits, I watched a police related video.

I normally dislike watching police videos.

I never liked watching COPS, and I don’t enjoy police related videos on YouTube, though I’ve felt more inclined to watch them for use in my classroom. They can sometimes be useful training tools.

I watched a video of the Chicago incident.

I watched for several minutes as a police officer traveled in his car to the scene of a call with his lights and sirens on, indicating there was some sort of urgency to the call.

I’ve been there before, lots of times.

Lights and sirens on a police car mean something is going down.

I don’t know what the call was for, but the young man was clearly doing something disruptive, because at one point, when the officer gets near the scene, a resident points him towards where the problem was. People don’t normally do that, unless they’re aware of a serious problem.

The officer and others arrived at the scene where an agitated, armed man is clearly not following directions, and then he is shot, many times.

He was “murdered.”

That’s what the state of Illinois says, anyway.

That’s also what thousands of people online say.

Thousands of people who have never put on a uniform and badge or carried the weight of a bullet resistant vest on their body for the duration of an eight or ten hour shift get to spew their opinions without knowing all the facts.

They will say that the police murdered this kid. They don’t have all the facts, outside of a seven minute video, but they will get on their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds and say, “Chicago police murdered an innocent boy,” and they will be wrong.

A human being who worked as a Chicago police officer used deadly force to end a person’s life.

That is what we know right now.

Chicago probably employs roughly ten thousand police officers. If that department is anything like mine, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then many of those officers are black and Latino and many are gay and then of course, many are white. Police departments are probably most large, urban cities’ best employer of minorities.

Ten thousand police officers from so many different walks of life didn’t murder that boy. The hundreds of thousands of officers in the United States not on that scene that night didn’t murder that boy.

No. Stop saying that.

One Chicago police officer used deadly force on that boy that night. And while we’re at it, let’s not pretend that he’s an angel. Be fair and admit that he was breaking the law.

He was armed, not with a firearm, but he was armed and on a dangerous drug, so he wasn’t an innocent boy shot on his way home from school or work or whatever. He was messed up on that night.

Did he deserve to die?

That is the question of the day for not only Chicago, but every city and every police department across the country.

It looks like a bad shooting to me, but I’ve not heard what the other side has to say about it. What was the officer’s reasoning?

If he says he was in fear of his life, who are you to say that he wasn’t?

Have you ever answered a call for a person high on PCP and armed with a knife? How did you handle it, if yes?

I’ve answered calls for people high on drugs or otherwise mentally out of it. They’re scary calls.

Maybe he knows this kid from prior encounters. Maybe this officer just took a training class and learned how fast a person with a knife can close a gap and put a blade into another person’s neck before the other person can react.

I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but the truth is, I don’t know, and neither do you.

Same on the other side of the argument as well. Well intentioned people who support the police are doing the same thing, spouting off that the kid had a knife and was on PCP, etcetera etcetera. They’ll say he deserved to die because he didn’t listen to the police. It’s not that simple either folks.

Hell, I’m doing it with this blog post. I don’t know what happened to a full enough extent that I should be taking sides, but I guess I am.

I’m on the side of justice. I’m on the side of the law.

It’s my hope that we don’t start seeing police officers prosecuted to assuage the masses, because that’s bullshit.

Murder in the First Degree is pretty harsh.

There is a difference between grabbing a gun and intentionally finding a target to kill and then killing him and being thrust into a tense situation because it’s your job and using deadly force because you thought you had to.

This man will have to answer for what he did, and I’m okay with that. I am glad that there was video, the police department’s video I might add. He will have to go through what he was thinking and convince a judge or jury that he didn’t murder that kid, and honestly, he might be able to, because it’s a tough case to convince a jury that a police officer murdered an armed person.

It’s not impossible, but don’t be surprised if there’s a hung jury or acquittal.

I don’t want any of this to sound like I’m justifying what the officer did either, I’m sort of thinking out loud and hopefully, giving you something different to think about as well.

At the end of the day though, I don’t want to read that police killed this person, because I am police, and I didn’t kill this person, nor have I ever killed any person.

Remember that the next time you read or hear that the police are murderers. That’s a pretty insulting comment, and I’d appreciate your support in correcting that person’s train of thought.

 

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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.

Apolitical?

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.

Why?

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?

Absolutely.

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.

Once!

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.

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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.

Hmmmph. 

“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.

137.

Hmmmph.

  

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