Lt. Blakeney, formerly of the Pine Lawn Police Department, is an individual whom I have never met personally but someone whose reputation preceded him throughout the law enforcement community in North County. Now the Ferguson Twitter Brigade has decided to look into his history. As the title of my article suggests, I think this may be worth looking into by any parties with the inclination to do so.
I can say that the stories featured in the above article are stories I have heard before from other officers, and at least one of which I heard directly from the source. If I didn’t find that source to be credible, I wouldn’t even mention it. There is plenty of evidence that Blakeney is a creep.
However, the problem with the allegations against Blakeney has always been that there doesn’t ever appear to be enough evidence to move forward with a criminal case. I’m very hesitant to accuse any person, any officer of such despicable criminal acts without sufficient evidence to support the charges, but after so many reports of related misconduct it is my opinion that any accusations levied at Mr. Blakeney should be given a second and third look. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but there is plenty of circumstantial/character information available to indicate that further investigation is warranted.
In reference to his claim of misspent funds, I think it’s interesting that there was another story making the rounds back in November that seems related. As St. Louis was in the height of the pre-Grand Jury fear back in November, most of us officers in the St. Louis County area were attending various civil disturbance / unrest training as mandated by the Department of Justice.
I attended one such training in Clayton. The gist of these trainings was that the entire county (municipal police departments within the county and the St. Louis County Police) was going to be broken down into a system of companies to be used throughout the region as the fear of widespread violence was at its height.
There was no mention of how the Highway Patrol would fit into these subgroups. It wasn’t clear if that meant that MSHP would have no part in the company system. We did know that the company system was under the command of the County and not Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol.
However, as we entered the end of October / beginning of November, apparently the County leadership met with the North County Chief’s Association. Supposedly, following the Grand Jury decision, all agencies in our area needed to be prepared for at least 72 hours of unrest without backup from the County. In other words, the company system that we had just been introduced to was going to be hyper-focused on a number of specific locations, namely Clayton and Ferguson. However, Clayton seemed to be the primary focus which was something that never sat well with me.
Anyway, in response to the meeting, many of the North County Chiefs decided to form what they called the CDRT or Civil Disturbance Response Team. Basically, in fear of violence that spread into the rest of North County, the municipalities would have a large enough force of their own to respond to any threats that might arise. As such, this newly formed team started training together. My agency opted out of the CDRT as did a number of other agencies as well.
The group stockpiled less lethal weapons including tear gas and made it clear that if the need arose they wouldn’t be holding back like the County / Highway Patrol had back in August. It goes without saying that a number of the officers involved (though admittedly not all) belonged to agencies that aren’t exactly known for being the best, such as Pine Lawn.
Since this concept was agreed to by the County and largely encouraged by the North County Chief’s meeting, I suspected there was an ulterior motive on the County’s part. It’s no mystery that the County has a tense / suspicious relationship with a number of North County Municipalities mainly with those existing east of Lucas and Hunt.
Back in August, the few officers who were identified as actually doing something wrong, like the officer who threatened to kill the reporters after a bottle of urine was thrown at him, mostly came from North County Muni’s. In the above example specifically, the officer worked for the municipality of St. Ann which is right next to Lambert Airport. At the time, most of these officers were misidentified by the media as Ferguson Police or St. Louis County/City.
Anyway, it was my unconfirmed suspicion that the County agreed to the CDRT because it would take these small underpaid, under trained agencies out of the areas of greatest concern without hurting their feelings and causing political issues. Furthermore, should the CDRT cause further controversy by acting improperly or using excessive force, the County would have the denialibilty to say that it wasn’t their agency and that they had no control over what went on in those venues.
So, as we got to about a few weeks out before the Grand Jury decision, the CDRT started to fall apart due to infighting. Of particular note was a dispute between the Pine Lawn PD and the Velda City PD in reference to who should be in charge of the team. This led to hurt feelings and finally Pine Lawn pulling out from the CDRT altogether. I don’t know if Velda City remained.
Prior to the falling out, a number of local business leaders supposedly got together and purchased a trailer to be used with the CDRT so that the Muni’s could set up a command post of their own similar to what the County and Highway Patrol had done in the Buzz Westfall Center back in August. At the time of the leadership argument, the trailer was being housed at the Pine Lawn Police Department. Once they pulled out of the CDRT, they kept the trailer which might be the $15,000 that Blakeney is referencing through his attorney. However, it obviously warrants noting that he was still in charge of the Pine Lawn Police Department at that time. It was much later that he was finally terminated.
Anyway, the CDRT didn’t wind up mattering in the long run for a variety of reasons:
- A few weeks before the Grand Jury decision, Jay Nixon announced the “Unified Command” system that no one had heard of before the press conference announcing it. It was completely in contrast to the training we received on the company system which was specifically under County’s command. There was never any clarification from the County either which indicated to me that they were just as caught off guard.
- The rioting that followed remained localized to the same general, Ferguson, Florissant, Dellwood, Jennings area as it had back in August. In other words, there wasn’t the need for the CDRT in the surrounding North County area.
- The rioting on West and South Florissant was so severe that the company system was immediately replaced with the chaotic code 1,2,3,4,5000 aid call system we became all too familiar with back in August.
There is plenty more to discuss about the administrative side of what went on in reference to the Ferguson response, but I’ve already digressed enough from discussing Blakeney’s claim of Pine Lawn Governmental misconduct. Humorously, Blakeney and his attorney don’t seem to understand that Pine Lawn being corrupt and Blakeney committing crimes against women are not mutually exclusive. Both can be true without disrupting the validity or circumstances of the other.
Furthermore, no one is disputing that the City of Pine Lawn is corrupt. It’s just always been mind blowing to me that the protests and rioting has been occurring down in Ferguson but not there. It’s also certainly not for lack of shooting people. Blakeney’s former boss, Ricky Collins, shot or shot at, at least two people whom did nothing wrong. He even lost his state police license in 2006 for a rape allegation of his own. However, it took until 2013 for him to be terminated and not charged. I’ve discussed this before under the “Unity Myth” subheading.
A Pine Lawn officer also shot and killed a suspect over the summer but there was no rioting or unrest.
The City of Ferguson, nor its Police Department, has ever had the reputation that Pine Lawn does. Define cognitive dissonance. If the Ferguson Twitter Brigade wants to look into Pine Lawn, I suppose it’s better late than never.