I felt I needed to write this special wandering. It has nothing to do with railroading though. A few more disclaimers. The first is that I grew up in a suburban St. Louis, Missouri town called Webster Groves. it is and was a railroad town served by both the Missouri Pacific and the Frisco. The next disclaimer is that I have a police officer cousin and my father, TV Picraux Jr.served as a Orleans, LA sheriff deputy who was shot in the line of duty, while he survived, he never regained full use of his left arm after being shot in the elbow saving people during an escape attempt in the New Orleans Charity Hospital. Also, I am very good about interacting with police about accidents that I see on the roads, Traffic lights out, possible drunk drivers, even people I feel are acting out of place, now granted my out of place is probably different, than yours because of my experiences, having been a police explorer growing up while with the explorer group was part of the International Police Chief Assn. Convention in St. Louis; worked as a dispatcher for security company and having done ride along with father, cousin and for the Radio/TV work it did. The final disclaimer, I worked in the St. Louis media in both radio and television with some great professional;in both radio and TV. With those disclaimers mentioned. The last four days has seen murder, riots, pre-military action, and finally a death by apparent suicide of a famous person whom I met twice, and got to interview one of those times.So let roll back the clock to Saturday afternoon. After listening to the Let’s Talk Trains radio show. which I normally host two or three times a month. I started seeing Facebook and Twitter posts about a shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. I turned on my scanner and started listen in to police and fire traffic. As my friends started posting the scene, I started wondering why it happened? Why the individual still lying on the ground and not being taken away in an ambulance to either a hospital or the morgue? I thought these were valid questions, since I had been to a few shooting scenes for radio and TV. And even one with my dad in NOLA. I watched as the day unfolded. The shooting scene was in a North St. Louis County town of Ferguson, MO. Ferguson used to be a white, commuter town a few dozen miles from the St. Louis Downtown. It has a great old commuter station, although not used as train station these days.
Now the town is made up of hard working African Americans that fled the intercity fighting and destruction. I would often go to the Ferguson station to watch trains pass and i always felt safe.This particular Saturday, showed a different side of Ferguson that would never believe this city would ever show. Going to broadcasting classes, I had some of the Mid-west finest teachers and mentors in the business. One, of the first things I learned was don’t make the news, report just the facts. Don’t let one side of the story dictate the flow. Make sure you see the story from all angles. Back in the 1980’s, we were taught not to let the police lead us to an angle. In other words, don’t show the perp walk. Police departments spent great deals of money on sally ports, where the alleged suspect was brought into police station and the door closed behind. Now, police will just pull the suspect out of the car and parade him/her passed the cameras into building hoping to make it appear that person is indeed guilty before even going to a court of law. Please remember in these United States of America, we are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before our peers.
Another thing is before you report it, make sure you have all sides to the story and report all sides equally. Many newsrooms today do not do that both local and national. Reporters and anchors still have responsibility to read and write the story in straightforward manner, not sensationalizing the story, by dramatizing the words, slowly empathizing word or words. Choosing locations that have no realistic part in the telling of the story. Don’t have double standards for people and don’t allow it from your people. OK, with that said, How come, even though we are all human, we do not get treated the same way? If this incident, was turned around, hundreds of police would have swooped the person, blocked every street on the way to the hospital. Instead, the body laid in the street for over four hours. Area is usually canvassed immediately and witnesses are interview on site. The suspect is taken into custody, processed and then held for at least 24 hours, then charged or released.The suspect name and photo are released as soon they a processed into the computer system. But, since this was an police officer, Police officers are just placed on paid leave. Names are not released due a possible threat against officer or family. Flip it around, if someone shoots or injures a police officer, the suspect name and photo are almost always released, The first question I have, is if the police officer really stands for justice, should they be held to a higher standard, and be willing to trust the justice system, to prove him gulity?
Second observation, when the local city police called the County police chief, (in St. Louis County, the county sheriff only handles civil cases, and the count police force deals with all criminal issues) to ask him to take the investigation over. There is a perceived conflict of interest to begin with:1) Another law enforcement operation, 2) Chief to Chief understanding. 3) County Police responded to scene with Machine guns drawn(AR-15) which are military style weapons.. 3) County police used police dogs in a non-ethical way, not for a search and rescue or bomb search. In other used the dogs in a tactical method against American people, similar to how the Nazi’s dealt with their prisoners of war.
Third, the witnesses versions are very different from what the police are stating happened. The statement made by the police chief’s about how long the investigation would take are grossly over stated. Watching the NOPD, process scenes, and take evidence. leads me to believe that there will be some tampering of evidence or leaving out key pieces of evidence. It has already been reported that bullet still has not been recovered from a wall inside a house at the crime scene.
Fourth point, this was residential street, if the suspect and his friend were walking down the street, while that may not be smart, We occasionally walked in street growing up i n Webster Groves. We would always step aside if a car came. heck we even, played baseball, kickball in the street.
Fifth point, why use deadly force? Now days, while I don’t like them, Tazers are used all over the place. I agree that people should respect law enforcement officers, but, increasingly a growing number of officers are getting an authority complex that their are always right. They are human just like the rest of us. The increasing number of officers that shave their heads (you can’t tell me that they all have cancer or have had it.), wear military style and color uniforms instead of the old light blue shirt and dark pants for city officers, light brown shirts and brown pants for sheriffs, dark blue shirt and dark pants for state police and display military style tattoos, don’t do it on purpose to intimate people, just like wearing sunglasses all the time so you can’t eye contact with them.
Sixth point, during the first press conference, the county police chief did all the speaking even though the city chief was there. Then as the two left the room, the county chief patted the city chief on the back, like they were good old friends, and probably are, since they travel in the same chief circles. Appearances set the stage for how people acted.
Seventh point, all LEO involved shootings should be handled by the State Attorney General’s own investigation team. All police involved shootings should go to a statewide grand jury system automatically this way, everything is truly above board and your getting a There already is concern that the county prosecutor, is biased because he is white and his father was supposedly killed by an African American and in recent memories, all police officer involved shootings in the state of Missouri have resulted no charges being filed against the officer. And to make trust issues even worst release the names and mugshots of the arrested alleged looters, but still has not released the photo or the name of the police officer. The story is now that the police office has to go to the hospital with a bruise to the side of a face. The police have asked the FAA to ban media helicopters from Ferguson airspace, for fear that the will be shot at since last allegedly the police helicopter was shot at. A great deal bystanders on the ground feel that story was to not be transparent, so the illegal police tactics could be used against citizens without the media present. The wonder why on Charter Cable all the local news stations coverage were scrambled for that area, and last night media on the ground was asked to take down all live trucks and move, just as a major offensive was about to take place.
The State Public Safety Director should have direct oversight of all peace officers in the state, not just training standards. There should be a specific time period reviews for each officer by individuals not related to the department and jurisdiction they serve. Also, all police procedures should come from the legislature or a statewide citizen’s review board made of random (jury type summoned) individuals.
Now with that said, I believe that 98% of of all LEO are an asset to the communities they serve. Watching my father’s department I saw the very good, the marginal, and the worst of the bunch. You know the saying trash in, trash out. But at what point do we as citizens start to lose our right to free speech, freedom to choose or not choose a religion, freedom to choose a partner for life.freedom to move around the country as we please, We the people are created equal under the law.That means every single human in this wide diverse country of ours. Rules and laws are to guide us to allow us to live together, work together, for the common good of all creatures on this earth. Let us get back to the Ten Commandments as your guide.
Next problem, will probably be a stock to people. the right to bear arms. Yes and no! Assault weapons should be available for combat purposes only. They should be available for everyday use or access. I see too many police offices carrying machine guns like a soldier does. That is just plain nuts. Solution to keeping people from shooting people besides better moral training? Quicker punishments. we to move criminals through system faster. Make all new lawyers do period of five year rotating as prosecutors then as public defenders before private practice, since most lawyers have don’t seem to understand mortality in helping fellow humans, instead of making massive amounts of money. The same goes for doctors. Additionally, some forms of private practices should not be allowed, patent lawyers, zoning lawyers, tummy tuck doctors etc.
The recent violence, fires, looting is not related to the shooting death. It is a mentality of some citizen to use this tragedy as an excuse for releasing their frustrations. I think it is because they walked away from their faith and families. Events of Saturday, Sunday and Monday and even somewhat Today are cause of concern to me. As a eighth grader at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, I would have to take the city buses to the children hospital for appointments or actual stays, I had plenty of encounters with African American children with their mothers or grandmothers getting on the bus. If the child would start to get overactive, the mom or grandmother, or even another African American would be very quick to intervene and correct the behavior, even more so than a white parent. I have also been impressed on that behavior. Knowing how the African American culture is really faith based more than most white folks. I have never been a racist. How can I say that, going up my grandparents and aunt/uncle had a cleaning lady that was African American. Every time I would visit their houses those wonderful individuals would teach me something about being a human being. As a result, I have surrounded myself with a great many African Americans that I am proud to call friends.
Violence is sometimes unavoidable. but, in this case, it is avoidable. Growing up in Webster Groves, there was that other side of the tracks. Unfortunately, a few of individuals from the other side did impact my life in a bad way. My two stolen bicycles were found in possession of individuals from north Webster Groves. I did not know the individuals, but, I let justice prevail. I never looked down on anyone from that area, because I was taught that we were all Webster Groves kids. I went to school with them, played Scout softball with them, I am not sure where we got off track, caring for each other, combining our shared knowledge to build a stronger USA and a stronger world. I do know that a great deal of corporation executives have taken the community before profits theme out of the picture. I think that a great deal of college business folks are just as bad as the looters. It is OK to pay the workers as low wages as you can, so that the executives/board of directors/stockholders can make a much money as they can. The solution is simple. Customers and employees first and then reinvest profits back into the business and the business will grow. Happy employees will make even happier customers. What happened to being there for your neighbor; you fellow human being? Is lack of motivation a problem? Some say we must understand the social-economic circumstance to these individuals.When I drove a school bus, I was told that by a mother. I thought about what she said for a few moments, then said to her; I have five safety rules for everyone. I deliver students from all walks of life, many, many different countries, since I was a school bus driver in the three college town of Columbia, MO. I treated everyone the same. I believed and still do today that respect is yours to lose. You always start at 100% and lose points based on your behavior and actions. if you don’t like what a business is doing, first let someone know about it peacefully. Second, legal or moral action. As I have always said, I work at a business because I want to, because I believe in what the company is doing. If that feeling changes, I mention it to supervisor, if it does change I leave. I have morals. Do I berate the company no? Well, only if the it is illegal, unethical, immoral, or dangerous to workers or customers. There a lot of great companies, small and large that do a great job of honoring their commitment to the human race. That is one reason I am still unemployed. I am picky, in applying for position where I part of a solution that helps mankind or animals. I believe in paying it forward, and I have several times.Look at my hobby now. I enjoy trains. I want to share that feeling with others. I host the Let’s Talk Trains show because I want people to learn and experience the feeling that I get from railroading. Everything I do, I will give my best at doing. Sometimes I fail fully but at least I tried my best. I have limitations due my height, my physical condition. my location. I enjoy meeting people and listening to other people. Learning about their background, experiences, The rioters became about them as individuals and not about us as a community.
The next issue is has been heartache. The loss of Robin Williams to suicide . He was truly a person that make you laugh about life and yourself. I had the privilege of meeting him and interacting with him twice. The first time was went I was a patient at St, Louis Children’s Hospital. He came to visit the hospital with Bob Hope. I am not sure they were touring together or not, but, that does not matter. I remember that he spent as long as you wanted to in your room. He wanted to remove the pain of being in the hospital through friendship and laughter. If I remember his visit was near my 17th birthday which I was going to have to spend in the hospital. He found out from a nurse that I had already spent three birthdays there, he was determined that I was OK with it. He joked that if he hear I was sad or depressed about it later, he would come back and foggle me. Never did know what that word meant. The next time I met him I had to interview him at the VP Fair where he was spotted just enjoying the fair, I told him of our encounter years earlier, He remembers going to the hospital, but, he was sorry that he did not remember me personally. But, that started a wild conversion about hospitals and kids that I think he used later in the movie Patch Adams. I will always keep those memories close to my heart. I will also remember that the roles he played in the movies, he did with vest and total commitment to the role. Will miss seeing you on the big screen Mr. Williams.
With that said, prayers to both Mr. William’s and Mike Brown’s families and close friends on these tragic losses of life.
That’s all I have to say this time.