Do Police Matter? Take Ferguson For Example

images-3Is the training and improvement of police worth the cost?

If you don’t think so, think again.


What will be the total cost of this incident — both economically and relationally — in Ferguson?


Understanding Ferguson:images

A closer look at St. Louis (MO) suburb where fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen led to unrest and looting

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Tensions remained high Monday in parts of suburban St. Louis after a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man led to overnight looting, vandalism and dozens of arrests.

A closer look at the town of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed:

LOCATION: Ferguson is about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis… about 21,000 residents.

HISTORY: Incorporated in 1894… as a railroad depot, the town quickly grew into a hub for freight and passenger traffic and a bedroom community for city workers…

COMMERCE: Ferguson is home of the global headquarters of Emerson Electric Co., a Fortune 500 company that employs more than 130,000 workers worldwide… Just outside the city limits is Express Scripts, the nation’s largest company that manages pharmacy benefits. Earlier this year, the corporation announced a $56 million expansion that will add 1,500 jobs.

WHITE FLIGHT: Ferguson and other parts of north St. Louis County were predominantly white communities before school desegregation…

DEMOGRAPHICS: About two-thirds of residents are now black. Fewer than half of the… homes are owner-occupied, and about a quarter of residents live below the federal poverty level.

SCHOOLS: Several North County school districts — including the Normandy system from which Brown recently graduated — have lost state accreditation because of declining test scores and other academic shortcomings…

RACIAL PROFILING: Some Ferguson protesters say members of the city’s predominantly white (90%) police force disproportionately target black motorists during traffic stops…

[Alan Scher Zagier, Associated Press, 8/11/2014. To see the entire post CLICK HERE.]



What do police say happened? According to St. Louis County’s police chief: Brown was walking with a friend in the middle of the street when a Ferguson police officer tried to exit his vehicle. Brown pushed the officer back into the police car, then entered the car, and a struggle ensued over the officer’s weapon. A shot was fired inside the car. The officer and Brown then exited the vehicle, and the fatal shooting occurred.

What do witnesses say happened? Dorin Johnson, a friend of Brown’s, told Fox 2 that he and Brown were walking in the street when the police car pulled up. The officer said to “get the eff onto the sidewalk,” he recounted. Johnson said the officer reached out of the car window and grabbed Brown around the neck. Another witness, Piaget Crenshaw, said she saw police chase Brown. “He ran for his life,” she said. “They shot him and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”

Who is investigating the shooting? The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating. The FBI and Justice Department have launched a parallel investigation.

How have the people of Ferguson reacted? There have been peaceful marches, mourning and memorials for Brown, and Sunday night there was rioting and looting. Police arrested 32 people Sunday night on suspicion of theft, assault or burglary. At least five people were arrested Monday during a protest outside the Ferguson Police Department. Protesters have said they want the officer who killed Brown to be identified, fired and charged in the killing, and they want the Ferguson police force to reflect the racial demographics of the largely African American community…

Who are Ferguson’s police officers? The Ferguson Police Department has 53 total commissioned officers, three of whom are black and two of whom are other minorities; the rest are white… Three of the officers are women and 50 are men… The officer who shot Brown is a six-year veteran of the department and has been put on paid administrative leave….

[LA Times staff writers Maya Srikrishnan, Matt Pearce and David Zucchino contributed to this report.] To read the full story CLICK HERE]


Here’s what St. Louis County officials had to say recently. To see video, CLICK HERE.]


Can Ferguson be a case study? I think so, even  it can before all the legal facts are in.

I can’t help but think back to the report of the Kerner Commission on the causes of collective violence in our nation’s cities. That was nearly 50 years ago and I was a young street cop in Minneapolis getting ready to graduate from the university.

Nevertheless, having read what I have posted above regarding the community and its police department, what stands out for you? What would you do as a police leader or person who can influence police?

  • The economics of the community.
  • The performance of its school system.
  • The racial and gender composition of the police department compared to the community served.
  • The lack of trust apparently existing between police and the community.

What questions would you like answered?



[Note to Readers: As I have “preached” a lot about the importance of getting feedback from those whom we serve, would you be so kind as to take a short (and anonymous) 10 question survey on how this block meets, or fails to meet, your needs? Please CLICK HERE. Thank You!]




  1. The fact is when does unjustified, unwanton, indscrimainate police killings stop? We are becoming more like the drug cartels and the mafia of the 1980s. If you recall the Philadelphia mob under Nickey Scarfo, and the New York mob under Jotn Gotti, those two guys were using violence to resolve their problems instead of trying to resolve them. Seems to fit the cops these days.


    1. Much needs to be done to improve police relations with the communities they police. Since the late 60s and the Kerner Commission Report it has been recommended that police departments reflect the communities they police in terms of race and gender and, in addition, establish strong relations with the community. Any police department today that does not reflect the community they police is looking for trouble.


      1. If you look at Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and Africa, police departments by and large do reflect the community they serve, but that doesn’t necessary mean they get along with the community. You look at the various forms of government (even democratic ones) in Europe and the military and the police were not used to serve and help the majority of the community members.


  2. “Any police department today that does not reflect the community they police is looking for trouble.”

    The problem is you have a lot of white people saying for years that police departments’ standards have gone downhill because of affirmative action even though their cities, counties, and states no longer have an overwhelming white population anymore. You would still have problems hiring people of other groups due to their negative experience with the police and in many countries, the police in not look upon favorable in their cultures. Many of these groups would probably join the police if the police was the only civilian job available in their community just as a lot of whites folks have join the police for the same reason.


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