Friday, October 30, 2015

View From the Start Line

Of all the duties that fall to me as Chief of Police, the one I preformed last night is far and away my favorite.

Why?  Because it was Graduation Day at the St. Louis Police Academy. Today, our police family welcomes a host of new members - not just the 17 men and women who received their badges when they crossed the stage, but everyone who shares the journey with them, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, husbands, wives, partners, and friends.

There is no mistaking the special nature of this occasion. I'm 21 years into my career, but let me assure you the memory of graduation remains vivid in my mind.   There's just no denying the impact of the ceremony. Our training process is carefully designed to teach each recruit as much as possible, but in the end there are limits. The classroom inevitably turns out to be comforting and familiar, compared to the world beyond.

You realize this quickly enough, when you dress in full uniform for the first time, and march into a packed auditorium with the city's leaders watching your every step. Something about this moment makes it all seem real. Swearing the Oath of Office, and understanding the awesome social responsibility it represents, brings that reality even closer.

And yet still, the occasion is overwhelmingly a happy one. Once you manage to start breathing again, you realize that you're ready. You've studied, you've prepared, you've trained, and you've made yourself fit for the next step. More than that, you realize you're eager to begin. You remember why you wanted to become a cop. You think about the people you'll protect, the good deeds you'll do.

You have your entire career in front of you, and everything is new. All possibilities remain open, all obstacles negotiable. You're surrounded by people who love and support you, as new friends and old ones alike wish you well.

It's a great moment in any person's life.

The past year has been a trying one for American law enforcement, with unprecedented challenges and extraordinary events. But for these 17 men and women, it's the year their career dream came to be fulfilled. For them, there is only the way forward.

And that's a good thing, for all of us. Their optimism, their energy, and the freshness of their outlook we'll help us meet those challenges, and I believe we could all benefit by taking a moment to see the world through their eyes.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Prayer Vigil at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church: My Remarks

Today, I attended a prayer vigil at New Northside Missionary Baptist Church. The vigil was held in response to criminal incidents in which fire was set to the doors of six churches in the St. Louis region. The investigation into the incidents remains ongoing at this time and anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS (8477). 

I wanted to share my remarks from today's vigil with you-

It's impossible to ignore that this kind of crime aggravates old wounds...old wounds that were never properly or fully healed.  

Fires in churches awaken some of saddest memories in our collective past. Anyone who knows that troubled part of American history must regard these events with utmost concern.

The fact is, when someone attacks places of worship in our community, they attack the whole concept of civil society, aiming violence precisely at the places where people are at their most decent, and their most peaceful.

But whoever it is out there trying to scare us, they have underestimated the power of that decency and the strength of our shared desire for peace.

Whoever this person is, they’ve picked a fight they can't win.

Whatever they think they’re trying to accomplish, they will not succeed.

Our community is stronger than they are.

It's also more united than ever before.

I have always believed in regionalism, in cooperation across political lines, which is why two years ago, we merged our Bomb and Arson detectives with those of St. Louis County.

The result of that collaboration today is that we're going after this crime, not just with the resources of one town or city, but with those of Greater St. Louis.