Thursday, February 28, 2013

Honoring Bravery, Courage and Dedication

I witness acts of exceptional police work on a daily basis. Some happen on the streets of our neighborhoods, and others happen within divisions throughout the police department. The men and women of this Department constantly impress me with acts of bravery, hard work and selflessness…and it is important to stop and recognize their efforts.

Tonight, I will award the Chief’s Letter of Commendation to 38 officers and civilian employees for various acts and services. The Chief’s Letter of Commendation is historically awarded “to those who perform an act of intelligent and valuable police service while demonstrating special faithfulness or perseverance through highly intelligent police performance.”

I will also present Service Awards to four officers and one civilian employee. This award honors employees who have served 35 to 40 years with the SLMPD. What an amazing achievement.

The employees being honored tonight have set a high standard of excellence and are great examples of tireless service to not only the Department, but also to the citizens of St. Louis.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Call No Police Chief Wants to Answer

Last night, I received the telephone call that no Police Chief ever wants to answer.  Two officers had been shot and were being transported to the hospital for treatment.

One officer, a 31- year old female, with 6.5 years of service, was shot in the foot.  She was treated and released from the hospital.  The other officer, a 26-year old male who has been on the force 2 years, was shot in the upper thigh.  He was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation and is expected to be released later today.  

The officers were doing the job that we ask them to do daily, when they encountered a 44-year old armed male suspect, who had no regard for their lives.

It happened around 10:45 p.m., when the officers responded to the 900 block of Elias for a panic alarm sounding inside a residence. Upon arrival, the officers walked towards the rear of the residence, when the suspect emerged from the basement door and without uttering a word, fired several shots at the officers.

The officers returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times. The suspect was conveyed to a local hospital where he is listed in critical/stable condition.  A loaded semi-automatic handgun was recovered as were narcotics packaged for sale.

My first thoughts were concerns for the officers and their families.  Are the officers going to be ok? What would I say to officers?

Upon learning of their conditions, I was extremely grateful that the injuries sustained were not life-threatening. The officers were in good spirits, and I reassured them that without a doubt, their training, intuition and quick thinking saved their lives. I am confident that these officers will recover and will be back on the streets of St. Louis protecting our citizens.

Lumiere Place Donation

At yesterday’s Board Meeting, Jeff Babinski, Vice-President and General Manager of Lumiere Place, presented the Department with a $100,000 check. This generous donation is just a fraction of the millions of dollars Lumiere Place has dedicated to improving the City of St. Louis. It is community partnerships like this one that continues to make St. Louis a great place to live, work and visit.

Lumiere Place’s $500,000 donation to the Department, to be paid in $100,000 increments for 5 years, will assist us in implementing hot-spot policing tactics and safety initiates in and around Downtown St. Louis. Downtown is not only a great neighborhood to live and work, but also attracts countless numbers of visitors each year, and it is the responsibility of this Department to ensure their safety.

We are grateful for our many community and business partnerships and support. Partnerships like the one between the Department and Lumiere Place gets us that much closer to reaching our main goal of reducing crime and helping our citizens feel safe.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Workplace & School Violence Prevention

Violence in schools and workplaces is now at the center of a national conversation about public safety.  Our attention has been focused by tragic events such as those at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Hartford, Minneapolis, Aurora, and Sandy Hook.

No community can afford to ignore the risks of school and workplace violence and much as we all wish it could be, St. Louis is no exception.  Our own recent past includes the shooting at ABB in 2010, which left five people injured and four dead.  Just a few weeks ago, another incident took place at the Stevens Institute for Business and Arts, where a student shot and wounded a school official.

The attack at Stevens occurred just days after I became Chief. I saw firsthand the impact a violent assault has on a school or public place.  Along with the actual victims, there is also a secondary effect, as people everywhere are forced to think twice about their own safety and the safety of their families.  Law enforcement isn’t just about protecting people and prosecuting criminals.  It’s also about making people feel safe, and for every person who falls victim to a school or workplace attack, there are millions of others who have every right to ask “what can be done to stop this from happening again?”

After Sandy Hook and again after the Stevens Institute incident, I began asking myself that same question what can the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department do both to help protect people and to make them feel safer?  At the time, one response we discussed and promised to deliver was awareness training for leaders from the business and academic communities, to help them understand how to better protect their facilities, their staff and their clients or students against the risk of violent incidents.

Friday the Department followed through on that promise by co-sponsoring two back-to-back seminars on Workplace and School Violence Prevention.  This training was provided by members of our Department. The goal of the program was to help participants understand the trajectory of workplace and school violence, the known characteristics of assailants, the warning signs which may precede an incident and the mechanics of the initial police response.

My approach has always been and always will be that guns have no place in our workplace or in our schools and we as a society have to be better about keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.  This training reinforced my thoughts. 

Nearly 300 people attended and benefited from Friday’s seminars. For that success, I’d like to thank everyone who took part.  Special thanks should also be given to Ameren Corporation for generously donating the use of their training facility to make these events possible.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrate Mardi Gras Responsibly

The City of St. Louis is home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country, second only to New Orleans.   Each year, thousands of visitors from all over the country participate in this great event.

Showcased in the heart of the Soulard neighborhood is this weekend’s Grand Parade.  Our department has spent several months preparing for this weekend and we are confident that we are ready for a safe and enjoyable day. 

We will be out in full force with both uniform and undercover officers keeping our streets safe and ensuring that everyone has a fun celebration.

But we need your help too. We ask that you remember your Mardi Gras Do’s and Don’ts.
·        Do plan for parking and have a transportation plan.  Metro will have shuttles throughout the day and the Taxicab Commission has maximum staffing for anyone attending. 
·        Do dress for the weather.  St. Louis weather changes often so make sure you are dressed appropriately for the event.
·        Don’t bring a cooler to the event.  There are checkpoints into Mardi Gras and coolers will not be allowed in.
·        Don’t drink if you are under 21.
·        If you are over 21 drink responsibly.
·        Don’t trespass and don’t vandalize anyone’s property.

Remember Soulard is a great vibrant neighborhood and the residents take pride in their homes. .

And lastly for those parking in the area remember not to leave valuables in plain sight.  Events like this are prime opportunities for thieves.  Help us do our job by securing your valuables.  This includes any weapon. If you have a handgun please leave it at home.  Remember a legal gun, once stolen, becomes an illegal gun and has the potential to be used in another crime.  

St. Louis has a lot of great things to offer...enjoy Mardi Gras, but be responsible.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lessons on Leadership

Today, the Department welcomed a special guest lecturer, Oxford University’s Dr. David Pendleton. Dr. Pendleton is a visiting professor at Webster University and is internationally recognized for his expertise on leadership in challenging times. Our employees were very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear his thoughts.

Dr. Pendleton stressed to employees the importance of leadership in transitional times. Given the many changes taking place in the Department, this topic was very fitting.

It is the Department’s leadership team, beginning with myself, which must take the initiative to understand our evolving plans and strategies, while at the same time effectively communicating them to both employees and citizens.  The information provided by Dr. Pendleton will help us to do precisely that.

Partnerships such as this one not only provide a sense of unity with the community, but also provide the Department with great opportunities to learn from others and grow.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

College Hill: Stop the Violence

As I wrote on my first day as Chief of Police, “we will focus on reducing crime and making our neighborhoods safe.  This has been, and always will be, our number one priority.”  Recently, the College Hill neighborhood has seen an increase in violent crime. This is unacceptable. As part of my commitment to you, the citizens of this community, we are taking immediate steps to not only identify and bring the offenders to justice, but also to implement strategies to make the neighborhood safer and return a sense of normalcy.

Starting today, residents of the College Hill neighborhood can expect to see a significant increase of police presence in the area.  A plan has been developed that includes extra resources in the neighborhood. Officers will patrol in uniform, driving marked police vehicles, as well as in an undercover capacity in unmarked cars.  Traffic Safety checkpoints will be conducted and our mobile command center will be staged in the area.  Residents can also expect to see roll calls being conducted in the neighborhood and community outreach officers distributing information on how they can assist. This is how hot spot policing works.

As always, we need your help.  Every piece of information, no matter how small, is crucial to solving cases and stopping violence.  If you have any information call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477).  It is always anonymous and offers rewards up to $1,000 for information on a case.  Assist us in assisting you in taking back your neighborhood from those who are committing the crimes. 

These flyers are being distributed by officers to residents of College Hills today: