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Poll: How Do You Feel About Police Chief Dotson’s Vision For Using Drones?

Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis Metropolitan Police
Chief Sam Dotson, St. Louis Metropolitan Police

In February drones were the subject of the weekly poll and readers supported regulation of drones in Missouri. Last week we learned of a real local example:

In Chief Sam Dotson’s vision of modern policing, a drone would circle Busch Stadium to watch for terrorists, or silently pursue a criminal who thought the chase was over when the officer in the car behind him turned off its red lights and siren. (stltoday)

Dotson sent a letter to the FAA on March 25th indicating they’d like permission to operate an “Unmanned Aerial Observation Platform”. See the RFT for Dotson’s March letter and a letter of support from Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.

I personally like the idea of using drones in the above situations, allowing the police to do their jobs, while not endangering the public with a high-speed chase. But I know many of you are camera shy, you expect more privacy even in public spaces.

This non-hypothetical example seemed like a good enough reason to revisit the issues of drones again. The poll is in the right sidebar, results on Wednesday July 10th.

— Steve Patterson

 

Tragedy Can Happen Anywhere

The Cherokee Street Business Incubator,  March 2010 photo
The Cherokee Street Business Incubator, March 2010 photo

Yesterday a tragic even occurred on Cherokee Street:

Four people were shot to death after an apparent murder-suicide inside a Cherokee Street building Thursday afternoon.

Ambulances and police cars responded to the scene at 2715 Cherokee Street at 1:29 p.m. The Cherokee Place Business Incubator is housed at that location and is home to many individual businesses. (KMOX)

What we must all remember is there are unstable individuals everywhere who settle disputes with guns. This is not a reflection on the people who live or work in the area where these individuals snap. I have seen Cherokee Street blossom in the 23 years I’ve been in St. Louis. One of my first jobs upon arrival was working for an antique store east of Jefferson, almost nobody went west of Jefferson in 1990. This doesn’t change my positive view of Cherokee.

The suburbanites reading this may think this is another city shooting and that these types of things don’t happen in their community. Again, these things happen everywhere.

Less than a year ago:

The shootings happened Monday morning in the 700 block of Hawbrook Road, in Glendale, Missouri a wealthy suburb about 10 miles west of St. Louis.

Mitchell Murch II called police Monday to say his wife Catherine, 42, had killed the couple’s two children, then herself at the family residence. (KMOV)

Glendale is wealthy compared to much of St. Louis but it pales in comparison to Frontenac.  In 2003 my then-boss and I met a couple at their home, they were considering hiring us for a remodeling project . We didn’t get the job, disappointing because we had another project in the same subdivision.  Two years later came this news:

Three people are dead following a shooting and high speed pursuit in the west St. Louis County suburbs of Town & Country and Ladue. Police say a man, identified as John Alexander of Frontenac shot and killed his estranged wife Kelli Alexander, 35, also of Frontenac and the caregiver of their children 29 year old April Wheeler of St. Charles, who is a friend of the family. John Alexander shot his wife, who was in her car with their three children, outside a home in the 2600 block of Bopp Road shortly before 6 p.m. Friday night. Video: Police Press Conference Corporal Jeff Myer, spokesman for the Town & Country Police Department, says police received several calls about a possible shooting outside a home on Bopp Road, which is just south of Clayton Road in Town & Country. (KSDK)

I sat at their breakfast table just a couple of years earlier! Do his actions put at black eye on Bopp Rd? No, these things happen everywhere. Wealthy neighborhoods don’t have immunity from senseless tragedy.

The families of yesterday’s victims have my deepest sympathies.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Support Full Legalization of Marijuana in Missouri

In the poll last week nearly 82% favored some change in Missouri with respect to marijuana laws, with more than half supporting full legalization:

Q: How should Missouri treat marijuana?

  1. Fully legalize 71 53.38% 53.38%
  2. Legalize for medical / decriminalize for recreational use 32 24.06% 24.06%
  3. Keep it illegal 21 15.79% 15.79%
  4. Legalize for medical use only 6 [4.51%]
  5. Unsure/no opinion 3 [2.26%]

Recently the St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved a bill (#275) that would give police the ability to issue a summons to people rather than arrest them for violating state law:

Right now, under that state law, first offenders who are caught with a small amount of marijuana — from a gram to 35 grams— is given a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second offense for possession of more than 35 grams is considered a felony. (stltoday)

This action is a reflection of changing attitudes, and perhaps realization the federal “War on Drugs” has largely failed:

For decades, the politics of the drug war were straightforward: Being tough could help at the polls and came with no political downside; being open to reform had few advantages, but would be used against a candidate on the campaign trail. (Huffington Post)

Nationally support for full legalization has picked up speed, Colorado & Washington states even legalized marijuana in the November 2012 election.

From Pew, click image to view source
From Pew, click image to view source

Seeing such a shift in Missouri will likely take a while.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: How Do You Feel About Jury Duty?

Most likely you’ve been called to the courthouse to participate in a jury pool.

Jury pool waiting room for the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis
Jury pool waiting room for the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis

The poll question this week is how do you feel about this? Do you look forward to participating in our justice system or do you try to get out of it? The poll is located in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Reduce Gun Violence Via Mental Health Access

January 2, 2013 Crime, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Readers: Reduce Gun Violence Via Mental Health Access

Last week readers voted on a timely but controversial topic: reducing gun violence.

Q: What can/should be done to reduce gun violence? (Up to 3)

  1. Address access to mental health services 66 [24%]
  2. Ban some types of guns but protect the 2nd amendment 62 [22.55%]
  3. Regulate access to ammunition 48 [17.45%]
  4. Allow concealed-carry everywhere 20 [7.27%]
  5. Ban all guns 19 [6.91%]
  6. Require licensed gun owners to prove guns are stored locked up 19 [6.91%]
  7. Censor violent TV shows & video games 13 [4.73%]
  8. Fortify schools and workplaces 10 [3.64%]
  9. Allow open-carry everywhere 9 [3.27%]
  10. Other: 5 [1.82%]
  11. Unsure/no answer 4 [1.45%]

The legislators who push guns are the very same ones that cut access to mental heath services. You can’t have it both ways, access to mental health treatment must be at least as easy as access to a gun.

In researching this I learned something about the intent of 2nd Amendment from former Chief Justice Warren E Burger:

We see that the need for a state militia was the predicate of the “right” guaranteed; in short, it was declared “necessary” in order to have a state military force to protect the security of the state. That Second Amendment clause must be read as though the word “because” was the opening word of the guarantee. Today, of course, the “state militia” serves a very different purpose. A huge national defense establishment has taken over the role of the militia of 200 years ago.

Some have exploited these ancient concerns, blurring sporting guns — rifles, shotguns and even machine pistols — with all firearms, including what are now called “Saturday night specials.” There is, of course, a great difference between sporting guns and handguns. Some regulation of handguns has long been accepted as imperative; laws relating to “concealed weapons” are common. That we may be “over-regulated” in some areas of life has never held us back from more regulation of automobiles, airplanes, motorboats and “concealed weapons.”  (Source — full piece highly recommended) 

I don’t know the answer to reducing gun violence but the NRA’s solution of more guns everywhere isn’t the type of society I want to live in.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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