The trail of blood stopped then started again on the sidewalk across the street. Droplets led west on the sidewalk into a gangway then disappeared.
“Who dar?” A woman yelled out her back door.
“Police ma’am. Did you see anyone come into your backyard recently?” I asked.
“Ain’t nobody been on my property who don’t belong.” She insisted.
I stifle my annoyance and point out to her that there is blood on her side walkway.
“Well I didn’t see nothing,” she says before going back into her house.
Her indifference is both amusing and aggravating to me.
There are over 50, WAY over 50, shell casing on the street and sidewalk, some from an AK assault rifle. An old man’s two cars have taken some serious collateral damage while parked at the curb. I feel bad for him, but he’s taking the assault on his cars, broken windows, flat tires and holes punctured in the hood and seats, as just another minor nuisance.
The old man’s cars and the shell casings are a good 60 yards from a very bloody porch, and as I’m walking towards him I notice a woman sitting on her front steps smoking a cigarette as our eyes meet.
“Evening, ma’am, how are you?” I asked, mostly out of habit more than anything. I expected her to simply say she was fine or ignore me altogether, but she did neither.
“Terrified.” Is all she said, before taking a last drag from her cigarette and going inside.
I could hear her locking her doors as I stopped in my tracks, slightly stunned by her simple response.
I’ve been back on patrol for about three weeks now. My transfer was sudden and completely unexpected, so it’s taken me a bit to get myself in a good place mentally.
Wife and my own schedules have been thrown into complete disarray, but we’re figuring it out.
I was sent to North St. Louis, which is the undisputed “bad area” of the city.
“Who did you piss off?” I was asked time and again by other officers and family members alike, when they asked me about the move.
Poverty and violence are a part of life in most north side neighborhoods. Many people distrust and dislike the police. Many don’t open doors to talk. Many who do talk say nothing more than, “I didn’t see anything.”
As frustrating as that can be, there have been many people in my short time in the new area who will open their door to talk. They will tell you when they’ve seen something. They will get involved to be a part of the solution to a problem that affects their lives in ways that most of us can’t comprehend.
Those are the people who need better than angry, discontented police officers patrolling their streets, so I’ve made an effort to keep most of my angry discontent away from the public. I find that I’m a much more patient police officer than I was 10 years ago, maybe parenting has helped that to happen.
I work with a good group of guys, most of whom look like they’re 15 years old to me. I don’t understand half the shit they say and they think it odd that I don’t know who Ron Ross is, but they’re willing to listen and even teach an old guy new tricks.
I enjoy not taking my work home with me anymore.
I enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow officers again. I’d forgotten how awesome that is.
Shootings, cuttings, drugs, guns, foot chases, car pursuits…there’s no shortage of fun in North St. Louis, that’s for sure.
And while there are a lot of thugs, shit bags, lowlifes, whatever you want to call them, there are still a lot of good folks living in these neighborhoods too.
There are folks who want to work, play, raise their kids and just live like you and me.
They want to be happy and feel safe in their own homes or out on their streets. If they’re willing to help us help them, then I’m all in to give them whatever help I can.
That’s no way for any person to live their life.