November 23, 2014

STL police union leader forsees violence

A spokesman for more than 1100 St. Louis metro police officers fears violence–at several levels–when the Michael Brown grand jury files its report, no matter what the report says.

Executive Director Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association says Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson is not the only area officer to get death threats since the Michael Brown shooting, and that includes him. But he says every police officer hopes people will respect the justice system and give it time to work.

Roorda says he’s “disturbed” by the idea that Ferguson police who were trying to protect life and property in August somehow provoked demonstrators to violence. And he worries about what’s coming. “Those protestors responded with violence for two weeks…The response of the crowd was to their own emotions and to their own goals, not to the police.”

He has told CNN the media has under-reported there were efforts to kill and injure police officers every night for the two weeks after the Brown shooting. He expects more of the same after the grand jury report comes out.


Police leader confident, concerned

St. Louis area police say they’re ready for public reaction when the fate of Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson is announced.

Metropolitan Police Force Chief Sam Dotson says law enforcement has a good plan. He tells CNN, “Our to keep people safe, to keep and safe, but at the same time to allow people to have their voice heard, their constitutional right to protest.”

But Dotson says he’s concerned about reports of surging gun sales and concealed weapons permits being issued: “It’s that hysteria, that anxiety that’s coming through…Introducing guns and more guns into the situation…I think every police chief worries about guns in their community.”

While some people question the legality of Governor Nixon’s call up of the National Guard, Dotson has no qualms about having the troops in the area. He says the Guard will supplement local law enforcement so regular officers can interact more with citizens and protestors.  He says the National Guard is “in the background.”

The grand jury considering the shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown continues considering that and any other cases referred to it while reports circulate that Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson is negotiating his resignation from the department. Dotson says, “I think everybody in the community and in the region realizes he could not return to the Ferguson police department. But that’s his decision,”


Holder releases guidelines for police/protestor relations (AUDIO)

The Justice Department has issued guidelines for police behavior during demonstrations. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Community-oriented Policing have issued the guidelines in anticipation of more protests in Ferguson.

Holder says the “vast majority” of law enforcement officers have “honorably defended” citizens in peaceful protests. He says, “Demonstrations like these have the potential to spark a sustained and positive national dialogue, to provide momentum to a necessary conversation, and to bring about critical reform. But history has also shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.”

Police, community leaders, even professional athletes in the St.Louis area are urging protestors who might take to the streets again this weekend to be peaceful in their actions.

Holder’s full statement:
AUDIO: Holder statement 3:54

“At the United States Department of Justice, we are committed to ensuring that our local law enforcement partners have the resources they need to effectively serve and protect all members of their communities, particularly when citizens exercise their constitutionally protected rights. To that end, the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services are providing new guidance to law enforcement officers about how to approach maintaining order during First Amendment-protected events. This comprehensive new guide compiles information, tools, and best practices that will help law enforcement officers maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights.

“As we’ve seen, durable relationships between the police and their communities do not develop overnight. But as someone who has spent a career at all levels of law enforcement-and as the brother of a retired police officer-I know the importance of these outreach efforts to ensuring effective neighborhood policing, officer safety, and community health. The Justice Department encourages law enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation. It is vital to engage in planning and preparation, from evaluating protocols and training to choosing the appropriate equipment and uniforms. This is the hard work that is necessary to preserve the peace and maintain the public trust at all times-particularly in moments of heightened community tension.

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen demonstrations and protests that have sought to bring attention to real and significant underlying issues involving police practices, implicit bias, and pervasive community distrust. And in most cases, these demonstrations have been both meaningful and responsible, and have brought vital issues to the attention of the public at large. Similarly, the vast majority of law enforcement officers have honorably defended their fellow citizens engaged in these peaceful protests.

“I know, from first-hand experience, that demonstrations like these have the potential to spark a sustained and positive national dialogue, to provide momentum to a necessary conversation, and to bring about critical reform.

“But history has also shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence. And so I ask all those who seek to lend their voice to important causes and discussions, and who seek to elevate these vital conversations, to do so in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter. Peaceful protest has been a hallmark, and a legacy, of past movements for change, from patriotic women who demanded access to the franchise, to the civil rights pioneers who marched for equal rights and equal justice. Americans exercising their First Amendment right to free assembly should look to those examples as they work to bring about real and lasting change for themselves and for future generations.

“Of course, I recognize that progress will not come easily, and long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight. These struggles go to the heart of who we are, and who we aspire to be, both as a nation and as a people-and it is clear that we have a great deal of important work to do. But as we move forward, the Department of Justice-and I personally-will continue to work with law enforcement and communities throughout the country to help build the more perfect Union-and the more just society-that all Americans deserve.”

International students a half-billion dollar boost (AUDiO)

More students from foreign countries than ever before are going to college in Missouri. That means a lot of money for the state’s economy.

The Institute for Higher Education counts a record 18-thousand-205 students from other countries are enrolled at Missouri higher education institutions, eight percent more than last year.   Almost two-thirds of them come from five countries–China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Brazil.  China, alone, accounts for forty percent of the international students in Missouri.

The chairwoman of the Study Missouri Consortium, Karla McCollum, says the consortium thinks those students put about one-half billion dollars into the state economy.

She says Missouri’s high-quality institutions and relatively-low tuition rates are attractive to students from other countries. She says many of them come here for the STEM programs–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

She says the schools try to make those students part of the campus mainstream. “One of the ways international students assimilate is through clubs and organizations.  Living in the dorm is another way.”  She says schools have International Program Directors who can help students from other countries fit in.

McCollum, who also is the Admissions Director at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, says most of the students have at least some proficiency in English. They have to reach a minimum score on an English test so schools know they can keep up in class and understand the instructors.  Schools do have some English-as-Second Language program to help students who need some help.

Audio: McCullom interview 14:09.



Navy handling of USS Jefferson City problems “bizarre”

Something has happened with the Navy’s nuclear submarine named for Missouri’s Capitol City that is so serious the sub has been stalled in Guam for five months. The Navy Times says the USS Jefferson City has been “marooned” and calls the situation “a bizarre development.”

The sub left San Diego April 9 for a six-month cruise.  But it docked in Guam June 21 and has remained there.  The Navy Times says the crew of 140 has been “stranded” and the submarine has missed deadlines for either returning to San Diego or going to Pearl Harbor for repairs. The Navy reportedly has not told crew members or their families when the Jefferson City will get back to San Diego.

Whether it gets back to San Diego at all has become a sore point, too, because the Navy now has announced the sub’s home port is being shifted to Pearl Harbor as of November 25, five months earlier than originally planned.

Senior writer Mark Farram quotes a spokesman for Submarine Force Pacific saying, “Jefferson City has a very small water leak from la valve internal to the propulsion plant”–a water  coolant leak that the Navy says is not putting anyone in danger and is not contaminating the environment.  The Navy considers the Jefferson City still on deployment “until return to home port—in this case, their new home port of Pearl Harbor.”

A spouse of one of the crew members has told the Times the announcement, which came last month,   “really hit us out of the blue.”

The newspaper reports the Navy was not planning to issue the crew Hardship Duty Pay of as much as $495 a month until it began making inquiries which led the Jefferson City’s ombudsman to put out a gag order to crew families.

The Navy Times is in independent weekly newspaper published by the Gannett Corporation, the same company that publishes USA TODAY and a large number of daily papers throughout the United States.