At Charlie Parker Square, one cop's aggressive policing has some residents crying foul – and they're calling in his past for backup 

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But as he steers through Parker Square, Griddine assures Villafane, a younger officer, that citizen complaints should be welcomed, not feared.

"We have policies that are set up to keep us from going astray," Griddine says. "There are levels you go through if there are complaints against you that are substantiated. And if they're unsubstantiated, who cares? I cross more t's and dot more i's while being investigated."

The quiet folks, the ones the OCC doesn't hear from, are the ones who look to Griddine for protection. "Because they know I'm going to be here tomorrow," he says. "And the next day."


Juanita Smith is one of the quiet ones.

Smith has lived in Parker Square for 40 years. She sports bold, oversized glasses, giving her the solemn appearance of a wise owl. When she moved in, Smith says, Parker Square was a pleasant place full of working-class families.

That changed in the late 1980s, when gangs and drugs swept through the city's East Side with unflinching malice. At its worst, in 1994, a record 528 serious crimes were reported in the Paseo corridor, which includes the privately owned Parker Square and its Housing Authority-owned neighbors: Riverview Gardens, T.B. Watkins, Wayne Miner, Guinotte Manor and Chouteau Courts.

It got so bad that the police sometimes balked at answering calls. When they did go, they showed up in teams of four: two to take the call, one to cover them with a shotgun, and one to watch the car. Before Wayne Miner's five towers came down in 1988, occupants in the 10-story high-rises were known to rain cinder blocks down on unattended squad cars.

Things calmed down some in the late 1990s, but images of glorified street life persisted. In 2005, the producers of a low-budget movie called Hood 2 Hood: the Blockumentary rolled through 27 of the most bullet-riddled neighborhoods in America, challenging young men to display baggies of drugs, stacks of cash and automatic weaponry. A handful of Parker Square kids were happy to oblige.

That summer, two teenage boys were gunned down near 12th and Woodland, and a third teenage boy was arrested and charged with the killings. Parker Square's crime-numbed residents were finally shocked into action. In the outrage following the shooting, residents heaped the blame on police.

Gary Majors, who now runs the city's liquor-licensing department, was the commander of KCPD's Central Patrol Division at the time. He scheduled a meeting and invited residents and building managers to attend. Juanita Smith was there.

With police help, the building managers came to a realization: The people whose names appeared on the leases were not, by and large, the people responsible for the crimes on the properties. Parker Square already barred anyone with a record of violent or drug-related felonies from signing a lease. Residents and police decided to apply the same rules to visitors.

And so, the "trespass list" — the most powerful tool in Griddine's crime-fighting arsenal — was born. Now several years later, there are 300 names on the list just for Charlie Parker Square — people who can't be on the property because of prior criminal histories or whose conduct there was deemed banworthy by officers.

Eighty percent of Charlie Parker Square's units are leased by women, the building's management estimates. The apartments are like lighthouses for adult children and grandchildren, for stepchildren, cousins, cousins' cousins, BFFs, god-nieces, play sisters, and family members with no blood relation whatsoever. And it's the stray friends and family members who often cause the trouble in Charlie Parker Square. "His job is, when you come on the property, you could be a criminal of some sort, a murderer or someone they're looking for," Juanita Smith says. "And if he stops you and asks to see your ID and asks if you live here or if you're coming here to visit, all you need to do, if you aren't doing anything wrong, is show your ID and tell him what he's asking for.

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