Monday, July 21, 2014

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony, 1915 Olive: My Remarks

Good morning and thank you all for being here to mark this historic perfectly symbolized by the march we've just taken together, walking from one phase of history into the next.

Today is a moment of historic change for the police department, and it comes at a time of many such changes. As I gathered my thoughts for this event, I started to think back on what's happened in just the past 18 months.

Earlier this year we completed a city-wide reorganization of the department when we redrew the police map of St. Louis for the first time in 50 years. That project - the switch from nine police districts to six - was truly a massive undertaking.  We took the leap forward, faced the risks, and finished the job.

Why did we do that? Why did we shoulder the burden of redistricting when it would have been so easy to stand still and not disturb the status quo? Why didn't we just do the usual thing, of leaving the problem to fend for itself and handing it down to the next generation? We did it, because we understand something very big and very important: we understand that it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

And the district boundaries aren't the only lines we've been crossing lately.  Another key change in recent days is the growing spirit of collaboration between City and County police. You can see this in the merger of some of our specialized units, in joint training exercises, and in shared vision of fairness when it comes to regional crime statistics. In a variety of ways big and small, we've been working together more closely than ever before. I would like to thank Chief Jon Belmar who is here with us this morning.

Again, you may ask why?  Why did we take the risks of reaching across political lines?  Why didn't we just do the usual thing? I'll tell you why again: because it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

So let's talk for a moment about why we're here...

The Police Headquarters at 1200 Clark has stood for close to a century. Even St. Louisans who've never had a reason to visit that building probably know it as the familiar background image in so many live shots.  

1200 Clark was the setting for countless stories and where thousands of police officers began their careers, as I did when back in 1993. A few years ago we had an evaluation done on our almost 100 year-old home, and the result was grim: 70 million dollars to repair, including 20 million in life safety issues alone.And so we started to consider the options. With support and assistance from our friends, we learned it would be possible to acquire and outfit a new, modern office building for much, much less.

In other words, we learned that it LITERALLY costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

So the right thing was clear, and that's what we did.  We did the right thing for our police department, we did the right thing for taxpayers and for city government.I'm very proud of the fact that we did it with roughly half of our funding came from a bond issue, with the other half divided between support from our Police Foundation, and asset forfeiture money.  

By the way, in case anyone doesn't know: "asset forfeiture" means that some of the money for this new building came in the form of cash seized from criminal enterprises. Crime in this case really does pay for the region.
This is an emotional moment for everyone who worked in and loved the old building, But the more we think about it, the more we know: the department's true home is not tied to any particular address. It's wherever we are. The Police Department is not a physical object - it's the sum of the people who serve it, and the people it serves. The Police Department is not a place - it's a spirit of public service that follows us wherever we go. 

Because the Police Department is a family, 1915 Olive is simply our new home. A home we are very lucky to have, by the way.  For those making the switch, the improvement in working conditions will be immediate and dramatic.  In almost every way you can think of, this building is newer, cleaner, safer, better.The more modern space will promote a more modern workflow, and a more modern organizational culture.  

We also have room to grow, part of one floor has been set aside to house the future of law enforcement: a real-time intelligence center, which will become the beating heart of a police department that lives, more than ever, by the flow of evidence, data, and information.

None of this is a product of luck.  All of it traces back to the hard work of good people.  The Police Foundation, whose generosity - always impressive. The leaders in city government who supported this massive endeavor from start to finish. The men and women of the Police Department, who gave everything that was asked of them - diligence, cooperation, and especially patience.  

There are several people to thank...

They all did what they did for the right reasons: because they care about St. Louis, and care about the Police Department charged with keeping St. Louis safe.

And most of all because they understand: it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

Thank you...thank you all. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thank You For Your Efforts: My Message to SLMPD Employees at the Conclusion of Fair Saint Louis

Yesterday brought us to the conclusion of Fair St. Louis 2014.  To the greatest extent possible, this event was characterized by safety, order and efficient public service.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of visitors were able to enjoy the hospitality of this great city, and do what they came to do: have a good time celebrating our nations' birthday.  None of it would have been possible without your work, your skill, your sacrifice and your dedication.

Simply put all did your jobs and did them well.  Despite the enormous challenge of a new location, which required everyone to set aside years of habit and re-think their role in the City's biggest annual detail, you came through and delivered like the professionals you are.

Everyone stepped up in his or her own way: Officers, Supervisors and Commanders of course, but also Dispatchers, Recruits, Planners and other Civilians.  Even those who weren't directly involved did their part, by keeping watch over the rest of St. Louis.

No one who knows you, the men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, would expect any less.

Thanks again and thanks for all you do each day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fourth of July

This week the United States celebrates its 238th birthday, and our city marks the occasion with we justifiably describe as "America's Biggest Birthday Party", Fair Saint Louis.

 The three-day festival is a truly massive civic project requiring an incredible amount of planning and hard work. The result is a model of public-private collaboration, as representatives of many different backgrounds and interests come together to do something great.

As law enforcement, our job is to preserve public safety, and there are two sides to the coin. We must make the event as safe as possible in practical terms, but we must also help people feel safe while they take part in the fun. We cannot succeed by doing one or the other. We must do both, and be judged by how well we do them.

 At the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, we have many sources of guidance. We have our laws, our policies, our core values, our training and our experience. But today we look back a bit further for our inspiration – all the way back to the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776 – because that's what this celebration is really about. We remember the words many of us memorized when we were kids:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that…it is the Right of the People…to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

I can't think of another passage that captures so perfectly the relationship between the police department and the people. We exist by your consent. We are founded on your principles, and organized in forms of your choosing, to serve the purpose of protecting you and helping you feel protected. Thank you to the officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, law enforcement officers across the country and to the men and women serving in our military. Thank you for your daily sacrifices that allow the people of this country to live in safety and happiness.

That's something we can all celebrate together. So let the spirit of the Declaration guide you this week, as it guides us, and let's help each other have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.