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Sunday Poll: Was Justice Served In The Stockley Verdict?

September 17, 2017 Crime, Featured Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Was Justice Served In The Stockley Verdict?
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On Friday a judge finally issued his ruling on the murder trial of a former St. Louis police officer.

Stockley, then a St. Louis officer, fatally shot Smith, 24, after a police chase in December 2011 over a suspected drug deal. After he pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, he waived his right to a jury trial, meaning the ruling was left to the judge.
On Friday, a judge found him not guilty. (CNN)

Here’s a little more detail:

What happened: In December 2011, Stockley, a 31-year-old officer, shot and killed Smith following a suspected drug transaction and high-speed chase, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Stockley first shot at Smith’s car in a Church’s Chicken parking lot at Thekla Avenue and Riverview Boulevard after, police said, Smith reached for something in his car and drove toward the officers. Smith sped away and the chase began, ending in a crash about a mile away. Stockley then shot Smith five times after, Stockley contends, he again saw Smith reach for something. Police said they found heroin and a gun in Smith’s vehicle. Smith was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Why now: When Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce charged Stockley with first-degree murder, in May 2016, it had been more than five years since the shooting. In the interim, the Board of Police Commissioners settled a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Smith’s daughter for $900,000, according to the Post. Stockley resigned and moved to Houston. The case again captured public attention in April 2016, when activists gathered in front of City Hall and claimed that the police had covered up the truth in the shooting and demanded charges against Stockley. Activist Anthony Shahid told the Post that Smith’s mother, who was at the gathering, had thought Stockley was in jail. (St. Louis Magazine)

This case is the subject of today’s poll:

This poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Metro Right To Highlight County Police Covering Cameras

August 2, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Readers: Metro Right To Highlight County Police Covering Cameras
North Hanley parking garage

In the recent Sunday Poll nearly seventy percent of those who voted don’t by the statement frim St. Louis County police chief Belmer.

Q: Agree or disagree: Media coverage of County police @ MetroLink is a ploy by Metro to get police powers.

  • Strongly agree 1 [2.78%]
  • Agree 1 [2.78%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [11.11%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [11.11%]
  • Disagree 9 [25%]
  • Strongly disagree 12 [33.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [11.11%]

I do think Metro would like to its own police force, I also think the officers caught spending hours in a substation, rather than be out on platforms, need to face discipline. Belmer too.

What I’m not sure of is of Metro should have police powers. The security guards on platforms and in trains are pretty useless, an argument for them getting police power. On the other hand, abuse of power can come with police powers. The St. Louis region is already highly fragmented. Missouri & Illinois granting Metro, aka Bi-State Development, police powers increases fragmentation.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Does The World Naked Bike Ride Encourage Indecent Exposure?

July 16, 2017 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Does The World Naked Bike Ride Encourage Indecent Exposure?
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The annual World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) rolled through St. Louis last night.  Organizers use the phrase “bare as you dare.” Some riders were completely nude, except for shoes.

Although you can be as bare as you dare during the ride, the City of St. Louis requests that we cover our privates at the pre/post party. (WNBRSTL.org)

The St. Louis police allow privates to be exposed in public during the ride.

In most states around the country, there are indecent exposure laws which may prevent men and women from legally exposing their genitals in public.

Some states, however, only apply their indecency laws to those who show their man or lady parts for the purpose of sexual arousal or to shock others, allowing well-intentioned nudists to avoid prosecution. (FindLaw)

The above source indicates topless is ok in most states thanks to lawsuits on the equality of indecent exposure laws. For today’s poll you get to weigh in on the subject.

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

– Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety

April 19, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Opinion: Turnstiles Are For Fare Collection, Not Public Safety

Many, including regional elected officials, letters to the editor, and others, are pushing the idea of turnstiles as a way to increase public safety on our MetroLink light rail system. Incredibly ill-informed because turnstiles, physical & virtual, are meant to combat fare-evasion.

Heavy rail systems like Chicago’s EL, the NYC subway, and DC’s Metro, have long had turnstiles to address fare evasion.They still have crime issues on trains & platforms. Turnstiles do not prevent crime.

CTA’s Brown line train at the Chicago Ave station, February 2017

Light rail systems, like ours, have been proof-0f-payment systems. This significantly reduced initial costs and making the system more welcoming. Some closed systems are even removing their turnstiles to increase ridership:

By nixing fare gates, public transit agencies emphasize ease of access over making every last rider pay. Europe got into “proof of payment” systems—where wandering personnel request evidence you paid your way—in the 1960s. They made it to American shores, mostly in light rail systems, by the 1990s.

Now, 21st century tech is making it easier than ever to blow up the turnstile. Modernized, cash-free fare payment methods—like reloadable tap-and-go cards, or apps that let riders use smartphones to get tickets, Apple Pay-style—speed up boarding. Passengers don’t have to struggle past fare gates. They can board through any door, instead of pushing through a bus’s front entrance to pay the driver.

The result: Faster vehicles, less crowding, and thus more frequent service, leading (hopefully) to more riders overall.  (Wired: Ignoring Fare Evaders Can Make Mass Transit Faster—And Richer)

Here Metro St. Louis has been updating stations with a high tech fare gate that will hopefully be ready soon.

In relative terms, the installation of turnstiles has a fixed investment cost, so the price increases linearly based on the number of stations in a system, not based on the number of riders or the length of a route. As a result, it makes more sense to install them in cities where each transit station handles a high number of users. (The Transport Politic: Are Turnstiles Worth Their Cost?)

The source above lists a number of cities and the cost to add turnstiles. In 2009 they estimated it would take St. Louis & Portland OR 45 years to break even on turnstiles, Charlotte NC was the only one higher at 50 years. The 2009 cost was $1.25 million per station — roughly $1.4 million per station in current dollars. With 37 stations in the system that’s $52 million!  Entering & exiting the system would be more cumbersome for everyone — some paying riders would very likely stop riding. Many of the 4% that currently evade fares would struggle to get to work.

Turnstiles do not prevent crime, from May 2015:

The leading crime on the CTA, theft, was down 38 percent, from 514 thefts reported in the first four months of 2014 to 320 thefts during the same period this year. The decline comes on the heels of a 26 percent drop during all of 2014 compared with 2013, the Police Department reported. Last year saw the fewest serious crimes in the previous four years, according to police statistics.

Robberies, the second most common crime on CTA property, declined 20 percent through April of this year, to 92 reported incidents from 115 for the same time a year ago, police data show.

The data so far this year indicate on average four serious crimes a day on the CTA, which provides 1.6 million rides each weekday. (Chicago Tribune: Safety tips for riders as summer kicks transit crime into high gear)

From July 2016:

Some CTA riders are concerned after a recent spike in crime. Police issued a community alert warning of two men robbing people at gunpoint on CTA trains and at CTA stations. Surveillance photos of the suspects were released overnight. Police are also investigating a stabbing.

Police said the men showed a black handgun and used pepper spray on their victims. After taking their cell phones, wallets and cash, police said the suspects exited the train at the next stop or jumped over turnstiles as they ran from the stop. (ABC7 Chicago: CTA RIDERS ON ALERT AFTER RECENT ARMED ROBBERIES, STABBING)

Turnstiles do not prevent crime, from NYC:

A disgruntled straphanger waved a gun at an MTA worker because he was upset over service disruptions, cops said.

The irate passenger confronted the 44-year-old worker just before 12 p.m. Monday on a Brooklyn-bound A train, police said. (Fox News: Angry NYC subway rider pulls gun on worker over bad service)

Turnstiles do not prevent crime.

Metro’s planned 2015 fare gate system was to help reduce fare evasion:

When we roll out smart card technology next year, the lights on ticket validating machines will let you know if your Gateway Card has enough money stored on it to take Metro. In the future, if your smart card is not valid for travel, the light will flash red. The lights are being turned on for testing on the MetroLink system.

The Gateway Card will offer a more convenient, secure way for you to pay Metro transit fares. Instead of paper tickets or passes, the Gateway Card will contain a computer chip that stores Metro passes or cash value. The fare is automatically deducted when you tap your card on fare equipment each time you ride. (NextStop Blog: MetroLink Ticket Validator Machines Lighting Up)

Turnstiles physical & otherwise do not prevent crime. Their goal is to increase fare recovery without reducing ridership in the process. That’s it.

Sadly just over half of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll have bought into the notion that turnstiles can reduce crime:

Q: Agree or disagree: Adding turnstiles at MetroLink light rail stations will greatly improve public safety.

  • Strongly agree 9 [13.04%]
  • Agree 8 [11.59%]
  • Somewhat agree 19 [27.54%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [2.9%]
  • Somewhat disagree 6 [8.7%]
  • Disagree 12 [17.39%]
  • Strongly disagree 12 [17.39%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.45%]

Please don’t be fooled by the turnstile magic bullet.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?

April 16, 2017 Crime, Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would Turnstiles Improve Safety On MetroLink?
Please vote below

After two recent fatal shootings regional officials are looking for solutions:

After meeting privately for more than an hour Wednesday, St. Louis Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said they have a framework to improve security along the light-rail line that connects the three counties.

The announcement comes after two fatal shootings on MetroLink last month. At a news conference after the closed door meeting, officials offered few details other than to say physical barriers, such as turnstiles, were needed. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Today’s poll question is about turnstiles & public safety:

The poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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