Update on Ferguson: Too Late

Last night in Ferguson.
Last night in Ferguson.

The relationship between police and citizens in a diverse, multicultural, free society is always delicate. With regard to building trust, support and respect of police among citizens it is something that must be developed and nurtured over the course of years, not days. And when trouble happens and police try to establish a relationship that was not there before incident it most always fails.

As I have said in previous posts, no matter which way you cut it, policing in a democracy is 90% about relationship. No one polices a community and effectively responds to crime and disorder in that community without FIRST building honest and thoughtful relationships with that community. Hardware and technology won’t solve the problem of mistrust, lack of support and disrespect in a community any more that it will solve the problem of bad cops in a police department.

I spent over 30 years in the ranks of police and another 20 watching them. I believe this has given me an historical, cultural and sociological perspective that compelled me to start writing “Arrested Development” five years ago and then moved me to start publishing this weblog three years ago.

Let me put this straight-out: The sooner we start selecting police officers and training them (and those currently in the ranks) to practice the following traits and characteristics, we will never be the kind of society that is outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. And our police will never be trusted, supported or respected.

  • College-educated.
  • Highly trained throughout their career.
  • Extremely competent in their duties.
  • Physically and mentally fit.
  • Controlled in their use of force.
  • Honest and law-abiding.
  • Committed to serving others.
  • Highly collaborative in their work.
  • Intimately connected with those served.
  • Respectful to everyone — always.
  • Led by high quality leaders in an organizational environment which respects and listens to them.

* NOW IS THE TIME TO START BUILDING, START IMPROVING, AND START CONNECTING. IT WILL TAKE YEARS, BUT THIS MUST BEGIN NOW!

Here’s what happened last night in Ferguson, Missouri:

NO INDICTMENT

“A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced Monday.

McCulloch said members of the jury met for 25 days and heard over 70 hours of testimony from over 60 witnesses before reaching their decision. He confirmed Wilson had fired 12 shots at Brown, who was unarmed.”

Here’s a visual interpretation of the witnesses’ accounts of events, and all of the testimony and evidence from the case is available online. While the grand jury has decided not to indict, a potential civil lawsuit looms and a Justice Department investigation is ongoing.

Despite widespread calls for peaceful protests, police described the fires and looting in Ferguson following the announcement as much worse than anything they’d seen in August. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has compiled a map of the damage.

PROTESTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

“Thousands of people across the nation turned out Monday night to show solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who shot Michael Brown. Crowds of people gathered in Times Square, outside the White House gates and in downtown Philadelphia. Many protesters were shouting, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ — a phrase that has become linked to protests over the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.”

More protests are expected throughout the country today.

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To read the full article from the Huffington Post CLICK HERE.

To read my prior posts regarding Ferguson, CLICK HERE.

8 Comments

  1. From looking at the pictures of DW I can NOT justify his actions I see a slight color change on his cheeks but NO other evidence he was beaten. HOW could the GJ come back with no charge??

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    1. What I see is that Missouri, like many states, broadly defines “self-defense” and takes into consideration something the federal court has called “objective reasonableness;” that is, if an officer believes his or her life is being threatened, the use of deadly force can be justified. I am sure we will hear a lot about that definition in the coming days (as it was the case in the Madison police shooting of Paulie Heenan a while back). The danger here, of course, is the “fear-factor.” If an officer fears a situation, whether it turns out to be so, the actions can be construed to be self-defense. It may be important to train officers to control their fear because in every physical confrontation a police officer could have his or her firearm taken away from them and used against them. More food for thought…

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      1. I don’t feel the Paulie was justified either an officer should be trained in self defence and with sufficient muscle tone to accomplish that. All together I feel there is an increase in office shooting deaths. Unfortunately the most recent 12yo shooting is a hard one, as the officer couldn’t be certain it was a toy gun.

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    2. I’m not a physician, but doesn’t it take a 24-48 hours for bruising to fully develop? Isn’t that why we take additional photos of victims a day or two after an assault? I’m not certain photos taken shortly after an incident are the best way to evaluate a suspect’s threat level.

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  2. I am a police officer- a supervisor to be specific.I think the leadership within the Ferguson PD is their own worse enemy. If I was Officer Wilson’s chief, I would not suggest or support him doing that interview with George Stef at ABC World News right after the no bill was returned by the grand jury. I was onboard with, and am still onboard with the no bill if that’s’ where the testimonies and evidence took this. But I thought it was ill advised, not necessary, and showed poor judgment for Officer Wilson give that interview and to tell the world he would do the exact same thing all over again while showing no remorse. To disagree, I would not order or ask another person to come here? Excuse me! Next, I wouldn’t block someone’s path of travel with my patrol car and expect them to cooperative after doing so. I can go on… My point again is I think the Ferguson PD is fundamentally broken from top to bottom with no sense of self awareness. That city and its PD will never, ever gain the trust of the people they are suppose to protect and serve in my opinion based how this incident was and continues to be mismanaged. I sense a warrior mentality throughout the PD there for sure; and not a service oriented community oriented ethos.

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  3. Nowadays you have gun holsters and guns designed to prevent someone from taking an officer’s gun away from him so that argument will no longer be vailid.

    I agree about trying to train the police to control their fear. If they are going to be so paranoia about getting killed or wounded every day, they should be discharge from the force. It seem that police don’t have the self-discipline to control their emotions anymore

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