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The Winds Of ChangeIn 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 Police Services.

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.

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