Case for Police Reform is Bigger Than Ferguson Shooting
Facts are slowly trickling out regarding the Michael Brown shooting by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. Not only has it now been determined that Brown was involved in an earlier strong-arm robbery – which speaks to Brown’s state of mind and makes it more plausible that he would engage an officer in violent conflict – but it’s also being claimed by some sources that officer Wilson suffered serious injuries in the alleged scuffle. The latter is far from proven, however.
This is important information for this particular case and those that want to ensure justice is done. It does not, however, tell us anything about the need for criminal justice reforms. Even if the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, it does not absolve the nation’s police as a whole, or even the Ferguson police in particular, of wrongdoing. The Ferguson PD would still be responsible for unnecessarily inflaming tensions through a combination of unnecessary and excessive displays of force, and a lack of timely communication.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Max Geron, a security studies scholar who runs the Media Relations Unit of the Dallas Police Department had to say:
The images from Ferguson, Missouri are disturbing and disappointing to those who recognize their role in law enforcement as servants of the public as opposed to strict enforcers of the law, maintainers of order or members of a paramilitary organization. While enforcing the law is a primary function and order maintenance is a part of that job, they are but components of the larger public servant role. Additionally, while police agencies are paramilitary in nature, law enforcement leaders now, more than ever, need to guard against the increase of militarization currently underway.
I’m disheartened that police unions and associations across the country are concerned about citizens photographing police while in public and have no qualms about speaking out against it. This adds to the concern of the public that we are moving more towards a police state and slowly eroding the freedoms we should cherish in this great nation.