Week of October 24, 2001

Police Action
Articles like this mischaracterize the police: I am not condoning the actions of Officer Kevin Jones if what this article insinuates is true [Wm. Stage, "Good Cop? Bad Cop?" Oct. 17]. However, it is unfortunate that the action of a single individual is portrayed as a moral misdeed of an entire department. It would be refreshing for the Riverfront Times to report on the positive actions of a police officer, which are more common in occurrence than misconduct. Articles like this mischaracterize the St. Louis Police Department. Do you ever think, as a "journalist," what message you are sending the general public? Or is it only about the story and not what the repercussions could be to impressionable youth? I see with my own eyes the distrust and disrespect the St. Louis police officers are up against every day, yet would you want to live in a city without them? The majority of them are truly out there to protect and serve, so why not shed some light on what they are doing for us instead of against us. You would be doing a service to the entire community.
Amber Mueller
St. Louis

Why didn't the cop bust the illegal operation? My question to Officer Jones is, why would he attempt to win a stuffed toy at an illegal vendor in his own neighborhood? As a peace officer, Jones should have known the intersection of Marcus and Natural Bridge was not in a special vending district. His first action should have been to check for a vending license and then report the lack thereof to a police officer who was on duty. Obviously no one involved was on the up-and-up. I certainly don't carry $160 in my pocket for spending money on a daily basis. Furthermore, shooting at someone is not a way to convince someone to return your money. However, Darnell "Duck" Harlston should not have been slain at the hands of a peace officer that Labor Day weekend.
Michelle Onkle
Edwardsville, Ill.

Cop asked for gas-station owner's cooperation: Well-written article that explains the shady events that had occurred. I am the son of the owner of the Shell station where the shooting occurred. I happened to be working that Sunday around 6 p.m., when the shootings happened. Darnell was a frequent customer at our store and had a kind nature. Your article has reaffirmed my belief that Darnell was not another stick-up robber trying to make $20 from robbing and wounding these "honest" men selling stuffed animals. My father let them run their business [because] the police officer had approached my father, identified himself as [a police officer] and asked for my father's cooperation in letting them set up a stand in order to find a local drug dealer.
David J. Chung
via the Internet

Ray of Spite
You suck, you piece of shit: I think you have to look at the facts [in the Jack in the Box killings] -- not the race of the victims [Ray Hartmann, "Losing the Battle and the War," Oct. 10]. Let's pretend that everyone in this situation is white. So we have two youths, one of whom has 3 grams of cocaine. This is breaking the law. Often the activities that occur with drugs are the activities that also lead to robberies, assaults and murders. So we have cops who have no idea whether these young men have weapons or not.

You can print as many testimonials as you want from brokenhearted loved ones, but the fact remains that because someone has a mother or aunt or brother that says, "He was a good boy, he would never hurt anyone," that doesn't mean the cops know that just by looking at them. As much as these family members grieve these boys, so would the families of any officers hurt. So the boys ram a police car. If someone throws a car in reverse, what do you think the next step will be? If someone smacks you, are you going to wait and see if they do it again? Cops are trained to think one step ahead. If they had told these men to step out of the car, they did not comply, and they threw the car into reverse, you're damned right I would shoot them too. Black, white, purple, plaid -- I don't care.

It's easy for you to criticize, Hartmann, but let's stop being a bottom-feeding sensationalizing suction fish long enough to look at the facts. You would have done the same thing, and you're full of crap if you say you wouldn't. You say you're not trying to demonize the officers. Bullshit. Your headline says it all.

The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every time they go to work. They are paid to defend us. Those officers were just doing their job, just the same as you are paid to be a stupid piece of crap that has no other purpose than to grab onto a hot topic and suck the life out of it like the media whore you are. To put it simply -- you suck, you piece of shit.
Beth Buschard
St. Louis

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