In a follow-up on a
previous post, Ferguson has promised to make some changes in the way it does business.
In addition to a Citizens' Review Board, the St. Louis suburb intends
to make some changes at the courthouse.
High fines and aggressive traffic enforcement may have led to
discontentment with the police force, and city officials are determined to reverse the
trend. In 2013, Ferguson issued 1,500 warrants per 1,000 people. That
alarming rate was twice as high as the number two Missouri city.
Advocates were cautiously optimistic, noting that nearby cities used the
same predatory tactics as Ferguson.
Ferguson's reforms are an excellent example of
community policing. The concept first gained traction in 1994's Violent Crime Control
Act. That federal law created COPS, or the Office of Community-Oriented
Community policing has several important benefits. Citizens are more likely
to approach officers they know with concerns about criminal activity or
knowledge of a past or future crime, so the people on the street serve
as an intelligence-gathering service. Once these people have jury duty,
they are also more inclined to believe an officer's testimony, making
it easier to convict criminals.
The big drawback, at least as far as the government is concerned, is money.
It's infinitely more cost-effective to place a revenue-generating
red light camera at an intersection than it is to pay a live officer to
issue warnings. But, given the risks associated with antagonism between
the people and peace officers, community policing may be a worthwhile
investment for departments in Tulare County.
Traffic tickets are a part of modern society and there needs to be enforcement
of good safety laws in order to keep idiots off the road. However, as
more and more citizens are convinced that traffic enforcement is not about
public safety as much as it is about revenue, the trust and respect that
should be due our officers is lowered because of distrust of the system.