Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson Reactions

So much awful, so many reactions.  I spent much time on twitter last night follow the events.  CNN was late to televising it, and their coverage has been lame overall. 

I have already posted on how it reminds me of other places (here and here).  So, let me focus on a few specifics of this situation.  I am not going to rant about the militarization of the police (I will let others do that).  Instead, the theme will be something I have discussed elsewhere--the need to know one's own limitations

These cops from Ferguson and St. Louis Country seem to have no idea of how bad they are at policing.  Or perhaps they do and they are overcompensating.  How so?  Well, they are engaged in denial--their side of the shooting sounds like B.S., they have not released the preliminary autopsy, they have not released the name of the cop who shot Michael Brown, they have repeatedly asked for people not to film them, we are no longer clear who is running things, they arrested reporters and politicians and the head of the police found out about the reporters' arrests from another reporter, they fired tear gas directly at the media, and on and on.

I guess the cops don't want recording devices because they keep saying and doing stupid things.  They have been caught saying racist stuff.  They have been caught on tape using excessive force. 

These cops are amateurs.  Each set of decisions shows that they don't know how to de-escalate this, that they don't understand what a proportionate response is, that they have no idea how to play this out.  As others have noted, the reactions of the cops since the shooting makes us doubt the story of the shooting.  Well, the cops' story. 

I am hardly an expert on this stuff.  I am just an outraged citizen.  I do think that the way out for the police involves:
  • Naming the cop who shot Brown.
  • Releasing the prelim autopsy.
  • Replacing the local policy with state police or national guard for the job of being around while protestors are protesting.
  • Ceasing the arrest of people for engaging in peaceful dissent, reporting, etc.
  • Moving back and giving the protestors their space.
  • Presenting a much less aggressive/militarized profile.  No snipers on top of vehicles, no assault rifles pointed at the protestors, etc. 
  • Providing clearer statements about who is responsible with politicians actually showing up (that would be the Governor of Missouri).  
Yes, if the police wear less armor and decline to be in the best positions to shoot, they will be taking some risk.  But it is their job to take risks so that citizens are not endangered.  The phrase that was over-used in Afghanistan was courageous restraint.  It is the job of the police to be restrained and only use force when absolutely necessary.  And by force, it is not just bullets but rubber bullets, tear gas, and flashbangs.

 Restraint and transparency are always the best course of action.  The truth will come out, so accept it and get ahead of it rather than deny and fall behind.  Building trust requires both transparency and restraint.  

No comments: