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Too Easy To Meander Inside Many Parking Garages

Lately the issue of safety in parking garages has been in the local news:

There are surveillance cameras at the parking garage on N. 7th street near Washington Ave., however the company that owns and operates the garage, SP Plus, told the victim in a voicemail, “The cameras are not operational”

Now, two years later, it’s the same story. According to an email sent to News 4 by the victim of the sexual assault that happened two weeks ago, SP Plus told her “There are no cameras at 701 N. 7th Street. We apologize for the inconvenience.” (KMOV)

I’m no fan of parking garages — except when I want to take pictures from them. They can often provide some of the best vantage points. Well. assuming I can access them.

Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010
Structural repairs being made to one of the Kiener garages in 2010

From a photography perspective I like that I can easily access many downtown parking garages without being stopped, but that’s not good for the personal safety of those who park in them. Newer garages seem to do a better job of keeping out people who aren’t retrieving their vehicle.  Still, with any public garage a person can get access if they drive in.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Not Interested In Possible Attack On Electrical Grid

March 2, 2016 Crime 3 Comments

The most recent Sunday Poll received less votes than usual, which I expected given the broad abstract nature of the question. These polls are non-scientific anyway, so basically for discussion and entertainment value.

Q: Likelihood of a [sucessful] cyber attack on the U.S. power grid?

  • Very unlikely 2 [9.09%]
  • Unlikely 1 [4.55%]
  • Somewhat unlikely 7 [31.82%]
  • Equally unlikely & likely 3 [13.64%]
  • Somewhat likely 2 [9.09%]
  • Likely 5 [22.73%]
  • Very likely 2 [9.09%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

The three unlikely categories added up to 45.46%, the likely 40.91%, with the balance in the middle.

Here’s Ted Koppel on the subject:

He says it’s not if — but when. He wants us to prepare for the consequences. For a lighter take see Koppel on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

— Steve Patterson


The Future Role of St. Louis Sheriff’s Deputies

Prisoner transport vehicle
Prisoner transport vehicle

In counties all across America the Sheriff is the law — think Andy Taylor.

Where county/municipal police police exist the elected sheriff typically is limited to the courts. As counties grow, the question is often if a county police department should be created. In 2012 Sr. Charles County did just that — effective January 1, 2015:

“The public, when they wake up January 1st, they will still have the same professional men and women doing the job they had the day before,” said Chief Dave Todd, who was sworn in Tuesday with his command staff and some other officers.

Most sheriff’s department employees are simply shifting into police posts — including Todd, who has worked in the department 37 years, the last 17 as a captain.

The change, set in motion by a county charter amendment narrowly approved by voters in 2012, mainly amounts to putting policing under an appointed chief with predetermined professional experience and educational requirements.

The sheriff remains elected and will be in charge of court security, transporting prisoners and serving subpoenas and some other documents in civil court cases. The county elected its first sheriff in 1816. (Post-Dispatch)

Not surprising, the National Sheriffs’ Association doesn’t like the idea of creating a police force headed by an appointed person rather than elected by the people.

For example:

The argument that creating a county police force will save the taxpayer money is on its very face absurd. To accept this notion requires one to ignore some basic “truths”.

First, the creation of a county police force does not mean an end to the sheriff’s office. Indeed, the county must continue to fund the sheriff’s office, which still must serve as an arm of the courts for security and service of court papers. If the sheriff runs the jail, this responsibility remains within his office, so long as he wishes to retain it. Therefore, funding of the sheriff’s office will continue.

Second, the creation of a county police force will mean new expenditures – some on a one-time basis and others reoccurring. New cars, new uniforms, new office space, new personnel, i.e. a new chief, deputy chief and command staff, as well as new road officers. It is foolish to think that all these people can or will be drawn from existing sheriff’s personnel.

Third, who will handle communications? There could easily be two communications systems, one for the sheriff’s office and another for the county police.

In short, there can be no savings to the taxpayers by dividing the duties of the sheriff’s office and creating a county police. Savings usually come from consolidation of agencies and efforts, not from the opposite, and even then such savings are small if realized at all. (County Police v. the Elected Sheriff)

The issues are slightly different when you’ve had both a police department and a sheriff’s office since 1861. For those unfamiliar, the City of St. Louis was located within St. Louis County until the Great Divorce in 1876.  St. Louis became a city-county with both municipal and county offices — including sheriff.

Now we have a candidate for sheriff that wants deputies to be able to do more — traffic stops, for example. If the deputies have time be out stopping motorists then perhaps there should be fewer deputies — with the savings going to have more police officers.

But I seem to disagree with most readers. In the Sunday Poll 58.34% agreed with the candidate while 35% of us disagreed.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis sheriff’s deputies should be able to execute traffic stops

  • Strongly agree 21 [35%]
  • Agree 10 [16.67%]
  • Somewhat agree 4 [6.67%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [5%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [3.33%]
  • Disagree 7 [11.67%]
  • Strongly disagree 12 [20%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [1.67%]

Don’t get me wrong — in the 25+ years I’ve lived in St. Louis the sheriff has been the same guy: James Murphy. I can’t vote for him, but I also can’t vote for the guy who wants to grow a patronage office.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Sheriff’s Deputies Be Able To Perform Traffic Stops?

Please vote below
Please vote below

One candidate running for St. Louis Sheriff wants deputies to be able to do traffic stops, to ease the workload on St. Louis Police:

Right now the main task for the 180 sheriff’s deputies in St. Louis is to transport prisoners to and from jail and provide security at courthouses. Vaccaro says having sheriff’s deputies execute traffic stops will free up time for St. Louis police officers to respond and investigate crimes. (KMOV)

To me this seemed like a perfect topic for a non-scientific reader poll:

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Readers Support St. Louis County’s New Minimum Police Standards

December 23, 2015 Crime, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers Support St. Louis County’s New Minimum Police Standards

I’ll start this post with opinion from the Post-Dispatch’s Tony Messenger: Cities look foolish fighting against higher police standards:

It’s amazing, when you think about it, that 12 cities in St. Louis County are seeking to stop the ordinance. If they win, lower standards win out, too. If you live in Webster Groves or Clayton or Florissant or Hazelwood, or Kirkwood or Edmundson, your city is spending your tax money defending their right to have sub-standard police departments.

Why would they do this?

It goes back to the passage of Senate Bill 5 (also being challenged in court by multiple municipalities), which reduced the amount of traffic revenue cities could depend upon to fund their coffers. If you haven’t been hibernating since Aug. 9, 2014, you recognize this has been the strongest, and most unified across the political spectrum, response to the protests and unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown.

Messenger is right, these municipalities don’t want change from the status quo. They know change could lead to them no longer existing. St. Louis County isn’t big enough in land area or population for 90 municipalities and 57 police departments.

More than 70% of those who voted in the unscientific Sunday Poll support the new standards:

Q: St. Louis County has issued new minimum police standards, but some of the 57 police departments object. Do you support or oppose county-wide minimum standards?

  • Strongly support 12 [44.44%]
  • Support 5 [18.52%]
  • Somewhat support 2 [7.41%]
  • Neither support or oppose 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat oppose 1 [3.7%]
  • Oppose 1 [3.7%]
  • Strongly oppose 2 [7.41%]
  • Unsure/no answer 4 [14.81%]

Change isn’t going to come easily, quickly, or quietly.

— Steve Patterson




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