Some thoughts on Ferguson

Tom Jackson
Aug 22, 2014

Like many of you, I have been reading coverage of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., and the resulting protests and discussions. Here are some thoughts and resources:

(1) The best suggestion I've seen for reducing tensions between police and the people they serve comes from a Wall Street Journal article, "What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras," by Christopher Mims. 

Mr. Mims writes, "Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

"So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens. In the first year after the cameras' introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%."
 
Mr. Mims notes that recordings often protect police officers from false accusations of misconduct. "Some of the reduction in complaints is apparently because of citizens declining to contest video evidence of their behavior," he writes.
 
(2) Many investigations of police killings are a sham.
 
Here is an interesting sentence: "In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified."
 
That's from a Politico article, "What I Did After Police Killed My Son," by Michael Bell, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Bell is white, underscoring the fact that this problem is not only a racial problem. He won a $1.75 million judgment, and helped lead a successful campaign to set up an independent board to investigate police shootings.
 
Via Reason's Hit and Run blog, good reading for people interested in civil liberties issues. 
 
(3) If you are interested in these kinds of issues, you should read Radley Balko's Washington Post blog. 
 
 

 

Comments

deertracker

Body cameras should be mandatory!

Donegan

I agree with you on this one.

LabMan

If I was a LEO I would want one.

ladydye_5

Yes, you could see just how ridiculous many of the interactions police officers deal with. It would show how outrageous many suspects/criminals/whatever you want to call them act. It would be good for BOTH sides.

LabMan

That would be my reason to wear one.

MiddleRight

Regardless of what happened in the actual incident, the behavior of the "citizens" in looting and rioting is unacceptable.

It seems totally ridiculous to me that to protest a shooting, you destroy the very neighborhood that you live in, and damage peoples property that has nothing to do with the incident.

People that perpetuate this nonsense are acting like animals and should be put in the little cages we build for people like this.

samiam

Agree ^^^^. How does the rioting and looting help the victim or his family?

deertracker

I agree the looting and rioting is pointless but it just shows the frustration in the community. However, a lot of the criminal element were not even from Ferguson. St. Louis has had to deal with gangs for years.

It just makes sense to have body cameras. That way no one can lie.

sandtown born a...

I agree the looting and rioting is pointless but, but what a excuse to loot and riot, that's all it was a excuse

Contango

Re: "St. Louis has had to deal with gangs for years."

Go across the river to that Democrat party bastion, East St. Louis, IL. 'Lovely' place.

deertracker

It's worse. I wonder how many killer cops work there!

Contango

Re: "killer cops,"

Be sure to yell for a gang member when you get mugged or worse.

deertracker

No need, the cops don't mug, they kill!

Contango

Re: "they kill!"

And gang members don't?

So what are you doin' that you attract the attention of the police?

Harley

Good advise from Chris Rock. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

There you go again

Best video ever!

deertracker

.......especially the part about the white friend!

Contango

@ Mr. Jackson:

I'd read that approx. twenty yrs. ago, that the overwhelming majority of the population of Ferguson was white and now it's black. (Hence the stark white/black police officer ratio.)

By my estimations, that's a rather rapid demographic change in such a short amt. of time.

Does anyone know what prompted the diaspora?

deertracker

Did you also read it used to be a sundown town? "Hence, the stark white/black police officer ratio".

Contango

Re: "sundown town"

Obviously 'that' issue's been solved and the community is soooo much better for it.

deertracker

issue's?

Contango

Re: "issue's (sic) ?'

It's no longer a "sundown town"?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I found this article to be fascinating (especially in the wake of the knife-wielder shooting after the one in Ferguson):

Taser Use and the Use-of-Force Continuum: Examining the Effect of Policy Change
http://www.policechiefmagazine.o...

As it seems to vary department by department (from what I read in the Police Chief Magazine article), I wonder Mr. Jackson, if you would be able to contact local police forces and gather information on their departments' Use-of-Force Continuum?

It would be interesting information to know, if only out of pure curiosity. Or is this more of a Mail Bag question?

deertracker

That incident could have been resolved without killing the guy. It reminded me of the city cop that shot the barking dog!

Contango

Re: "barking dog!"

"Barking" AND aggressive.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I watched the video of the shooting and as much as I roleplay other things, I have trouble putting myself in this situation as a LEO. I get to wear the rosy glasses of hindsight and am afforded unlimited time to think. In the moment, were they justified using lethal force against a knife-wielding, erratic man shouting "Kill me! Shoot me!"?

What is proper police procedure, to pull guns first to assess then get the non-lethals out? I can't say I ever see mace held out as they shout for people to freeze or get on the ground. I guess there are issues with the accuracy of Tasers at certain ranges. There are just so many variables here and I'm not even trying to create some kind of false equivalency between the two "sides".

But because of stories like this, I think it would be good for us to know from someone with knowledge/authority to speak on procedures to go over threat assessment, the use-of-force continuum, and as other stories pointed out, when it comes crunch time who's priorities are highest: LEO's, suspect's, or public's?

deertracker

That's where we disagree. You are not guaranteed to hit your target with a gun any more than a Taser. Rational people don't yell shoot me holding a knife at cops. Theft is not an executable offense. I just feel it could have been resolved without killing the guy.

grumpy

How many shots do you get with a taser? Few handguns carried by patrol cops have less than a dozen, unless it is the cops backup gun. From what little I know of tasers it is a one shot deal. Something that is used when the person is standing and threatening the cops and the other cops can back up the cop who shoots the taser. Doesn't make much sense to use a one shot deal when being charged... if he was being charged.

deertracker

There were two officers there. Are both poor shooters? Some resident's homes were shot up by the cop in Ferguson which could have turned out worse. They could have tasered the guy, dropped him like a bad habit, cuffed him and moved on. No need to kill the guy for stealing.

grumpy

" Are both poor shooters?"

Did both fire their guns?

". They could have tasered the guy, dropped him like a bad habit, cuffed him and moved on"

When did they have time to discuss which would use the taser and which would cover the subject with the gun and fire if taser missed or didn't work? Since YOU are the one making claims as to what they could/should have done.How far away was the subject when he charged? How many seconds does it take to cover that ground? Have you heard of the Trueller drill? A cop has time to pull aim and fire his weapon in about the time it takes a subject to cover 21 feet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tue...... When did the 2 cops have time to discuss which would use a gun and which would use the taser? What if the taser missed, didn't work? Is the taser as fast to use as a gun? It is YOUR claim they should have used the taser. Please show us the studies of how well that works on charging subject weighing near 300 lbs.

"No need to kill the guy for stealing."

He attacked an armed cop or two in their car. That is not stealing. The cops stopped to tell them to get out of the road and he attacked TWO armed cops. Does that sound like the type of person you would take chances on when they charge two armed cops AGAIN? But then it sounds much better to say he was killed for shop lifting. But then he forced the clerk in the store to let him leave... then he and his buddy made the wise choice to walk down the road instead of the sidewalk... the made the decision to not get off the road when the cops tell them... then made the decision to attack the cop getting out of his car.... then made the decision to charge the cop he just beat on. This sure sounds like a rational person and the cops should give second third and fourth chances to do the smart thing... he has made so many smart choices in the last 10 15 minutes... he won't attack toe armed cops a second time... oh wait...But according to you he was shot because he stole some cigars. Never mind the other laws he broke. Maybe you should say he was killed because he was born. Maybe because he ate peanut butter sometime in his life... or maybe he ate carrots, and lets not forget white bread.

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