Monday, July 21, 2014

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony, 1915 Olive: My Remarks

Good morning and thank you all for being here to mark this historic occasion...so perfectly symbolized by the march we've just taken together, walking from one phase of history into the next.


Today is a moment of historic change for the police department, and it comes at a time of many such changes. As I gathered my thoughts for this event, I started to think back on what's happened in just the past 18 months.

Earlier this year we completed a city-wide reorganization of the department when we redrew the police map of St. Louis for the first time in 50 years. That project - the switch from nine police districts to six - was truly a massive undertaking.  We took the leap forward, faced the risks, and finished the job.

Why did we do that? Why did we shoulder the burden of redistricting when it would have been so easy to stand still and not disturb the status quo? Why didn't we just do the usual thing, of leaving the problem to fend for itself and handing it down to the next generation? We did it, because we understand something very big and very important: we understand that it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

And the district boundaries aren't the only lines we've been crossing lately.  Another key change in recent days is the growing spirit of collaboration between City and County police. You can see this in the merger of some of our specialized units, in joint training exercises, and in shared vision of fairness when it comes to regional crime statistics. In a variety of ways big and small, we've been working together more closely than ever before. I would like to thank Chief Jon Belmar who is here with us this morning.

Again, you may ask why?  Why did we take the risks of reaching across political lines?  Why didn't we just do the usual thing? I'll tell you why again: because it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

So let's talk for a moment about why we're here...

The Police Headquarters at 1200 Clark has stood for close to a century. Even St. Louisans who've never had a reason to visit that building probably know it as the familiar background image in so many live shots.  

1200 Clark was the setting for countless stories and where thousands of police officers began their careers, as I did when back in 1993. A few years ago we had an evaluation done on our almost 100 year-old home, and the result was grim: 70 million dollars to repair, including 20 million in life safety issues alone.And so we started to consider the options. With support and assistance from our friends, we learned it would be possible to acquire and outfit a new, modern office building for much, much less.

In other words, we learned that it LITERALLY costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

So the right thing was clear, and that's what we did.  We did the right thing for our police department, we did the right thing for taxpayers and for city government.I'm very proud of the fact that we did it with roughly half of our funding came from a bond issue, with the other half divided between support from our Police Foundation, and asset forfeiture money.  

By the way, in case anyone doesn't know: "asset forfeiture" means that some of the money for this new building came in the form of cash seized from criminal enterprises. Crime in this case really does pay for the region.
This is an emotional moment for everyone who worked in and loved the old building, But the more we think about it, the more we know: the department's true home is not tied to any particular address. It's wherever we are. The Police Department is not a physical object - it's the sum of the people who serve it, and the people it serves. The Police Department is not a place - it's a spirit of public service that follows us wherever we go. 

Because the Police Department is a family, 1915 Olive is simply our new home. A home we are very lucky to have, by the way.  For those making the switch, the improvement in working conditions will be immediate and dramatic.  In almost every way you can think of, this building is newer, cleaner, safer, better.The more modern space will promote a more modern workflow, and a more modern organizational culture.  

We also have room to grow, part of one floor has been set aside to house the future of law enforcement: a real-time intelligence center, which will become the beating heart of a police department that lives, more than ever, by the flow of evidence, data, and information.

None of this is a product of luck.  All of it traces back to the hard work of good people.  The Police Foundation, whose generosity - always impressive. The leaders in city government who supported this massive endeavor from start to finish. The men and women of the Police Department, who gave everything that was asked of them - diligence, cooperation, and especially patience.  

There are several people to thank...

They all did what they did for the right reasons: because they care about St. Louis, and care about the Police Department charged with keeping St. Louis safe.

And most of all because they understand: it costs more to live in the past, than it does to invest in the future.

Thank you...thank you all. 

3 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. CHIEF SAM DOTSON, et al; Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis. We appreciate your dedication and your hard work to the people of St. Louis over years. I visited your website today and this is what I read "The Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis strives to provide the best possible police service to the citizens of St. Louis. Our Mission Statement and Core Values serve as guides for the work we do everyday to protect those who live, work and visit the City of St. Louis." but apparently something in your unit went drastically wrong. Somehow, an officer and those he partnered with chose not to uphold MPD's mission, your core values which is to "Service, Integrity, Leadership, and Fair Treatment to All". (I say those who partnered with because no one - no one even called an ambulance for this young man) I sat here in NYC watching a child being gunned down like he was nothing. People say like animals… wild animals roaming a city gets tranquilized or even shot and are immediately removed from the streets so no passerby won't beg traumatized. This is what bothers me the most about this: Not only was this young man gunned down like he was a "paper target" (well not, even because if a cop gets a perfect shot he sure cherishes that piece of paper); is that he was left laying on the ground for at least four hours with children watching, families watching, strangers watching, every state and country in the world watching, God Watching…. This is beyond brutality. These people are traumatized…They are hurt…what we see are our sons, our nephews or uncles our dads, our husbands being murdered by the people we love and trust. This is not about black or white... our black men and boys are our hearts, they are our lives, they build us..we are but nothing as a people without our men. I wouldn't want to be in your position but if I was here's what I would do. I would look my officers in the face and say that was my son that was killed… we as a people that serve don't see color… if that were yours I would say the same thing… This young man…any young man needs your respect, your acknowledgment cause as simple as it sounds..they matter. They matter! PLEASE TAKE A STANCE AND CHANGE THE CULTURE OF YOUR DEPARTMENT. YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR OFFICERS TO MAKE SOUND JUDGEMENTS WITHOUT UPHOLDING SUCH BEHAVIORS. Enough is enough! ZERO TOLERANCE! LIFE…LIFE… PRO LIFE!

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  2. The actions of your police officers in the police murder of Kajieme Powell have defined your police force as a barbaric, murdering pack of thugs. Such "policing" has no place in a democracy and cannot be justified or rationalized in any manner whatsoever. The man could have been controlled by many other non-lethal techniques, but it is clear from the video that your thugs are ignorant of ethical police practice. SHAME!!! I hope the perpetrators of this crime spend the rest of their lives in prison. http://commondreams.org/news/2014/08/21/they-just-killed-him-new-video-betrays-police-depiction-fatal-shooting

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  3. It is in everybody's, especially your, best interest that you arrange for a statement to appear front and center on this website about the unnecessary shooting of an obviously-mentally-incapacitated man by officers you supervise on 8/19/14. I am surprised to find that five days after the incident you need such PR/peacekeeping advice from a psychiatrist multiple states away.

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