We all have seen the destruction and looting of property the last two nights, so I figured I put this image up to try to inject a little humanity into this entire ordeal.
There was some talk over how – or even if – we should cover the incidents in Ferguson this week. Considering we are specifically an American politics site that deals with policy and government issues, how we would cover the fallout of the Michael Brown case was much debated. What we decided was this, a rundown of the political impact that the Ferguson situation could have going forward.
The Investigations Over the Michael Brown Shooting Aren’t Over Just Yet
Many news outlets are forgetting that the grand jury decision isn’t the end of it. Both the Justice Department and the FBI are still looking into the shooting of Michael Brown for potential civil rights violations. While this is harder to prove – civil rights investigations by the Justice Department have some very specific standards to qualify for further investigation – it’s still being looked into at a federal level.
Civil Rights Investigations Over the Ferguson Police Department
Out of the Justice Department investigations that are currently happening in Ferguson, this is the most intriguing one. Beyond the shooting, the Justice Department is specifically doing a wide ranging investigation over police practices in Ferguson. The investigation goes deep into specific police practices – “stop and searches” and arrest procedures – to see if there is a systematic problem of discrimination within the Ferguson Police Department. These investigations have the power to change police practices not only in Ferguson, but in police forces across the country.
The Militarization of Local Police Forces
Back in August the question started to be asked whether the militarization of local police force was causing more problems than solutions in law enforcement. What has come to light are the many grants given to local police departments each year by federal agencies such as the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. Civil rights and civil liberties advocates have started requesting to the Obama Administration to discourage police departments from using military grade equipment. But from the last two days of protests in Ferguson, if rioting and looting resumes, then public opinion may be shifting on this issue.
The Conversation of Police Adopting Body Worn Cameras When On Duty
After the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case, the Brown family made one request, that when you think about it, makes total sense. That police officers wear body cameras when on duty. Instances like the Michael Brown shooting would have been entirely avoided if this practice was enforced. While there are many proponents for the measure – many in the law enforcement community and civil rights advocates believe it will cut out the “he says/she says” element in arrests – the body cameras aren’t cheap. They go for around $1,000 each. While on the surface it doesn’t sound like much money, if you have to consider that every officer has to be equipped with one, the cost adds up. For many police departments the total cost would constitute almost half the police budget for that fiscal year. Then again maybe if you were to transfer$1 billion in grants given by Homeland Security to police departments each year for military grade arsenals, this would curb the cost of these body cameras for local police departments. More importantly, it would make incidents, like the one in Ferguson, a thing of the past.
(Photo Credits: Twitter @byjoelanderson, Reuters, Associated Press, PoliceMag.com)