Tag Archives: police

Times-Dispatch Omits Facts Instead of Including Them

by Jon Baliles

Public safety is one of every locality’s largest and most important responsibilities. If the sidewalks, streets, and neighborhoods are not safe, people go to places where they are. Walkers, joggers, businesses, customers, and everyone else won’t go to places where they feel their safety in in jeopardy.

At the same time, that responsibility of providing that level of safety of the people enforcing the law comes with the burden of being better than the people that are breaking the law and/or causing trouble. It is a two-way street. If you don’t have people enforcing the law, you will always have people breaking it, and then society and streets and neighborhoods break down, and chaos and despair follow. That’s a fact, even though some choose not to acknowledge it.

What is disturbing is what happened on a downtown street last summer when a 911 call led to an encounter with two Richmond Police officers responding to the call and ended up in a takedown and arrest of a gentleman named Mr. Holley at the Maggie Walker Plaza on Adams Street.

You can read the article about this by Luca Powell in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that ran on January 31, but it turns out that was a less-than-complete (to be generous) accounting of the facts. After the article ran, the Commonwealth’s Attorney felt compelled to write a lengthy and detailed email to the newspaper “to correct the inaccuracies and incomplete information. Had you taken the time to contact me directly, I would have provided you with the following information that would have resulted in a more informed and balanced article.”

What should trouble residents of the City is that the story that was reported seems to have omitted more facts of the case than it included. Maybe that was on purpose, maybe it was just sloppy reporting and a lack of proper editing. But the fact that it drew rebukes from both the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and then a lengthy statement from the Interim Police Chief, Rick Edwards, suggests to me that important parts of the story that were omitted in the newspaper can be relayed in a forum like this newsletter where accuracy and counterpoint do not give way to space for ads and revenue. Continue reading

An Open Letter to the Mayor of Roanoke

(This letter was first published by The Roanoke Star.)

Mayor Sherman Lea:

I called your office last week in an attempt to speak with you about the current state of affairs and my recent experiences in Roanoke City. Your secretary took my information. I asked for a return call; I’ve heard nothing from you.

What are you doing about the decline of Roanoke City? I frequently shop and support businesses around Valley View Mall and the airport, and have been doing so for over 10 years. However, things are happening now that indicate I should take my business elsewhere.

Last Tuesday I was pumping gas at the BJ service station at 10:30 AM when a homeless man approached me, panhandling. When I refused him, he became angry and agitated. He retreated behind the pay center and emerged shoving a shopping cart through the parking lot filled with over-stuffed trash bags…cursing to himself.

I spoke to the employee in the pay center and shared what happened. She said, “it happens here numerous times a day. We tell them to leave. The Roanoke police occasionally come but they are powerless to do anything.”

Friday I was in my car in the Kroger parking lot on Rutgers St. A staggering woman made her way over to my car, and stood next to my window begging for money.

I’m sure you’re aware of the large homeless encampment in the woods between Aviation Drive and Lowe’s. Bags of trash, overturned shopping carts and homeless individuals are strewn across the truck exit from Lowe’s to Hershberger.

Why have you let these problems metastasize?

On numerous streets in Roanoke City, individuals are camping, squatting, or panhandling drivers. We do not see this in Roanoke County, Salem or Vinton. Police vehicles are more prevalent in these areas. I rarely see a police car in Roanoke City. What have you and City Council done to drive away and disenfranchise our police force? Continue reading