Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Sad Reality of The World We Live In: A Chief’s Rant

The first thing a police chief does after waking up in the morning is find out what happened in their city while they were asleep. This morning was no exception.  What I discovered on this particular day made me sad, angry and frustrated, but even more so, made me question who is helping us change the culture.

There are many things in my life which I can control, however there are many more which I cannot.  Last night was one of those nights that I could not control.

Before going to sleep last night, I read my friend Tim Fitch’s blog. Tim, who is Chief of Police in St. Louis County, blogged about “How Not to Become a Homicide Victim”…one of the things we preach daily in law enforcement.  His tips: don’t sell drugs, don’t carry an illegal gun, remove yourself from abusive relationships and help those with mental illness receive treatment.  It made sense, it was common sense, and I agreed with Chief Fitch and his thoughts.

When I woke up this morning, I thought about his message in a different light after learning about the behavior of a 15-year old overnight.  It started about 2:20 in the morning when a young man, armed with a handgun, approached a vehicle owner and ordered the owner to lie on the ground while he drove off in the victim’s Cadillac.  Minutes later, officers observed the 15-year old suspect in the stolen Cadillac.  This began a nearly 20 minute pursuit of a 15-year old armed robber.  The suspect, with no regard for human life and with reckless disregard for the wellbeing of anyone else including himself, drove erratically and recklessly; even striking a police officer’s vehicle.  Our training and tactics teach officers to use a variety of methods to end pursuits like this one.  I must commend the officers for their professionalism, their composure and their desire to end this pursuit as quickly and safely as possible.  Those skills, along with the use of spike strips to deflate the suspect’s tires, ended this dangerous fleeing safely.

When the vehicle finally came to rest, the suspect jumped from the vehicle in an effort to run from officers.  Officers used a Taser to finally subdue the young man and arrest him.  Fortunately, there were no serious injuries to the officers, to citizens or to the suspect.  The 15-year old suspect has been charged with Robbery 1st, Assault 2nd on a Law Enforcement Officer, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Property Damage and Resisting Arrest.

And to answer the question before you ask: this was not his first foray into the area of criminal enterprises. Somebody should have seen this young man was on a course that needed correction. Where were his parents? Where are his parents? Where were the courts? Where was anyone?

Here is the harsh reality of the world we live in: last night, a 15-year old armed with a gun and a 2,000 pound vehicle led police officers on a winding pursuit with little to no regard for anyone’s wellbeing, or for that matter, their life.  Where is the community’s outrage? Where are the interventions? This is just one of a countless litany of crimes where we have to stop and ask ourselves: is this the world we want, but more importantly, what are we willing to do to change it?


  1. It is a "systemic problem" more than "just" family, courts or Society. It started in his pre-teens and continued to present-day. He is likely not to see beyond thirty years of age. We need to change a lot in our Society in order to "prevent" crime and criminal behavior. We need more inclusive approach to intervention which would not only include the juvenile, but parents, family, friends, schools, community, employers, courts, probation/parole among others. It will take more than an "angry COP!" It will take EVERYONE INTO THE POOL TOGETHER!

  2. Good luck, Chief. What a world, what a world...

  3. Chief, I am outraged also. I feel like I do my part (being vigilant, report suspicious behavior, attend neighborhood meetings. etc.) and am not sure what more I can do. Here is what disturbs me: while all of this crime is going on, we've got in-fighting over local control, residency rules, which gun is the best, what happens to your pension, drones (really, you lost me on that one!). How is THAT helping ANYTHING that is going on out on the streets NOW? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my SLMPD and support you/them fully and think you're doing a good job. But, until we can do away with all of the political distractions (is that even possible?), the bad guys win. I know your hands are tied in some areas (to chase or not to chase, not enough cops on the street, etc.) but certainly you/the department could be doing more policing and less bickering. Thank you.

  4. Go ahead and rant. Its about as effective as your other non solutions to our crime problem. This city has made it clear that they want the citizens to be victims instead of encouraging people to stand up for themselves. The people need to be armed everywhere, all the time, to stop these lawless thugs. Quit promoting policies that make people vicitms. SLMPD also needs to start hiring cops that are actually smart instead of these PTSD loser veterans who don't have any job skills outside of brutalizing people for the government. As a south side resident, I am outraged. But what is more outrageous is that you promote policies that create vicitms, and then promote jackbooted police policies that don't get rid of criminals. Maybe you could take some of those officers off of your jackboot checkpoints and have them patrol?
    (But, I imagine your like most officers and those federal dollars tied to checkpoints are worth more than citizens lives)

  5. Bill McClellan wrote about a family who challenged poverty, neighborhood violence & unaccredited schools to raise two successful sons. This article is printed in the August 16, 2013 St. Louis Post Dispatch/STL Today.
    What is hopeful is that the family was able to match their talents, determination and available community resources to accomplish their goal. Raising successful children can be done.