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Read My Name Lyda, I Also Want To Defund The Police

July 2, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Read My Name Lyda, I Also Want To Defund The Police

The topic of defunding the police continues to make headlines, especially after poor judgement by our mayor recently:

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson is facing backlash on social media Friday night for reading the names and street addresses of protesters who are calling on the city to defund the police department. (KSDK)

She apologized, but it’s clear she’s more of the same — willing to make minor tweaks here and there, but not actually solve the root problems with big bold changes.

A massive former military vehicle on display during the opening of the police headquarters, July 2014

I like to use an analogy of a dirty, grimy, & cluttered house. Krewson and others would tackle such a house with a feather duster. They can look busy and point to progress, but it’s not really effective.

The real way to tackle such a house is to remove all contents, and then evaluate if the structure is worth saving.  It either needs thoroughly scrubbing, extensive remodeling, or razing and replacement. Then only put back what’s been cleaned, and fits — no more clutter.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police is like this dirty, grimy, cluttered house. St. Louis County Police too. The clutter is a Jim Crow-era racist culture We’ve got to basically start over, create a new culture.

The St. Louis Police acted like an occupying force by blocking a major street, Olive, in front of their headquarters , June 3 2020
They even blocked the sidewalk with a concrete barrier.

To me defunding the police means completely disband the existing police. One city has done this: Camden, NJ.  It got a lot of press last month for its “Camden Rising” redevelopment plan, but Camden residents say not so fast.

“Camden Rising” is Camden’s redevelopment plan, created by powerful non-Camden residents, aimed at attracting young, white professionals to move here. It shifted governing power over public services — including education, housing, economics, and public safety — from Camden’s primarily Black and Latino residents to county and state officials. And the 2013 creation of the CCPD was integral to the Camden Rising redevelopment strategy of recasting Camden, long viewed in local and popular media as “dangerous,” as now “safe.” (Business Insider)

This is NOT what we should do! Still, we must do something. I’ve lived here nearly 30 years, little has changed. Well, the police have more surplus military vehicles now.

Some supporters of divestment want to reallocate some, but not all, funds away from police departments to social services and reduce their contact with the public to reduce the likelihood of police violence.

Those seeking to disband police consider defunding an initial step toward creating an entirely different model of community-led public safety.

The concept exists on a spectrum, and the two aren’t dichotomous but interconnected. But both interpretations center on reimagining what public safety looks like — shifting resources away from law enforcement toward community resources, he said.

It also means dismantling the idea that police are “public stewards” meant to protect communities. (CNN)

We need substantive change, but I know the monied old guard haven’t given you the authorization to to do anything meaningful — they like the status quo.  We need a mayor not beholden to the old guard, someone willing to rock the boat.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police

January 22, 2020 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers Split on Residency Requirement for Police
Bank of holding cells at police HQ

The City of St. Louis has had an employee residency requirement for years now. The concept is simple, if you want to work for the city you need to live in the city. Their wages stay in the community and multiply as spent locally. It’s easier to understand a community when you’re part of it — not just an outside observer.

Fifteen or so years ago I listed a friend’s south city house for sale, the buyer was moving to St. Louis after accepting a city job. I recently saw the buyer at an event — she and her husband still live in the house and she still works for the city. This is the ideal outcome.

It seems the St. Louis Police are having a hard time filling vacant positions because qualified applicants in the region don’t want to move. This is common, as people all over the St. Louis region tend to commute to their jobs — they don’t necessarily move to the municipality where each new job is located.  This explains why I-64 and I-270 have daily backups as motorists commute to/from work.

This is one of those rare issues where I’m undecided. Here’s the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis Police shouldn’t have to live in the city.

  • Strongly agree: 15 [31.25%]
  • Agree: 6 [12.5%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.17%]
  • Disagree: 11 [22.92%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [18.75%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.08%]

While I’m undecided I’m also not sure how I feel about removing the residency requirement for only one of many city jobs. Is the law enforcement profession so different than refuse handlers, bookkeepers, etc?

Oh right, some cops in St. Louis beat up a black colleague working undercover as a protestor. So here’s my question— would dropping the residency requirement mean we’d have more or less racist police? Or would the percentage remain unchanged?

— Steve Patterson

 

High Marijuana Taxes Means Black Market Will Continue

January 3, 2020 Crime, Featured, Metro East, Recreational Marijuana Comments Off on High Marijuana Taxes Means Black Market Will Continue

I’ve long supported the legalization of marijuana. No, I’m not a regular user — my last time was in the Fall of 2017 to deal with severe pain after breaking my wrist.

I just think legalization is good public policy. Criminalization was horrible public policy.

In the 1930s, Prohibition was repealed in the middle of the Great Depression. Straight-laced bureaucrats looking for another target turned their attention to marijuana, which, at the time, was mostly being used in the Mexican and black communities. They painted the drug—and the communities using it—as a threat to the already crippled country and began the process of banning it. Twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana by 1931, and in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, essentially making the plant illegal in the United States. (History.com)

So some bureaucrats wouldn’t be out of work during the Great Depression they used race to get marijuana criminalized! Eight plus decades later 11 states have legalized recreational use. It was 6 years ago that Colorado became the first, Illinois became the 11th on January 1, 2020.

On the first day of legal sales in Illinois the line at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville stretched hundreds of feet around the corner.

Illinois needed to legalize, for the tax revenue.

It depends on the amount of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. In flower form, there will be a 10% tax. Edibles are taxed 20% but jumps to 25% if the THC levels are above 35%.

In most states that have legalized recreational weed, it’s typically 30-50% more expensive than illegal weed. (CBS Chicago)

That’s the part I’m struggling to get past: 30%-50% more expensive than illegal weed. The cash cow to help state budgets is keeping the black market alive.

In the United States, high tax rates have been effectively driving consumers to purchase black market marijuana.

California, for example, is taxing the daylights out of its pot buyers. In addition to passing along a state tax and local tax, buyers are paying a 15% excise tax, as well as a wholesale tax of $9.25 per ounce of dried cannabis flower, or $2.75 per ounce of cannabis leaves. Add this up, and it could work out to an aggregate tax rate of 45% on legal pot. And, mind you, this doesn’t include additional costs such as the laboratory testing on weed grown in the Golden State, which is also being factored into the price that consumers pay. (Motley Fool)

Taxes on alcohol & tobacco are higher than things like, say, toilet paper. That’s fair, I suppose. Yet there’s no black market for those, at least not that I’m aware of.

Food trucks filled the parking lot to sell food & beverage to those who waited in line for hours to buy legal cannabis.

Will the legal and illegal markets continue side by side? Maybe that’s a good balance? I need to let go of my expectation that legalization will lead to the end of the black market.

On the other hand, the black market does a poor job supplying quality concentrates & edibles.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?

November 24, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?
Please vote below

Last week we heard the city is interested in bringing back red-light cameras:

We haven’t seen red-light cameras in St. Louis for a few years, but now the city is considering bringing them back — and the tickets that come with them.

“We’re looking for a tool that can help us save lives,” Director of Operations Todd Waelterman said.

He said police are short-staffed and have too much on their plate, so they’re exploring other options to make the streets safer. (KSDK)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. More information, my thoughts, and results Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check

November 6, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on St. Louis’ Newly Bill Requiring Reporting of Those Who Fail a Gun Background Check
Grand Theft Auto’s gun store Ammu-Nation

I thought the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll would at least get the usual number of responses, but it got way less.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis’ new background check bill (#106) is a waste of time & money.

Strongly agree: 2 [15.38%]

  • Agree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [15.38%]
  • Disagree: 4 [30.77%]
  • Strongly disagree: 1 [7.69%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [7.69%]

The few gun retailers in the city will need to report to the St. Louis Police when an applicant has failed a firearm background check.

”A waste of time & money” was the most frequent criticism I read last week. Given how few gun stores exist in the city and only about 1% fail a gun background check, I don’t see this is a big issue.

”Criminals don’t buy guns” is another I heard. For this I turned to Politifact:

[U.S. Rep] Faso said “The vast majority of crime that is gun related is committed by people who illegally are possessing that firearm.”

People can differ on what constitutes a “vast majority.” What’s more, illegal gun crime is not well researched in the U.S. The latest data is more than a decade old. One analysis of the data showed Faso’s claim is not true in some states while true in others. But experts say most gun crime is likely committed by those who illegally possess guns.

His statement is accurate but needed additional information. We rate it Mostly True.

So this likely won’t reduce crime in St. Louis. However, since 1982, 74% Of mass shooters obtained their guns legally. So there’s potential the St. Louis Police may get the name of someone who failed a background check — if they could’ve bought a legal gun they might’ve committed a mass shooting.

The fact is we’re not going to ever know the effectiveness of this new bill. However, we do know that few who lie on their application are prosecuted — even though that’s a crime.

— Steve Patterson

 

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