A Radical Solution for Ferguson Police Woes: Democracy
In response to the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police office Darren Wilson, protesters have insisted that the shooting is proof of long-term problems between the local black community and the Ferguson police force.
After the initial shooting, there was much discussion as to whether the police were over-militarized. Now that the grand jury has decided to file no charges against Officer Wilson, protesters around the country have taken up the charge that the police are biased against blacks in Ferguson and around the country. Even the President of the United States has weighed in, hinting that the justice department needs to investigate local police departments to stop police abuses and discrimination.
Is it really necessary to have a national solution to a local problem?
The city of Ferguson has a population of around 21,000. It is governed by a mayor and six city councilmen with a city manager, very typical for small cities. The population distribution of Ferguson is 67% African-American and 29% White. In the last mayor’s election, voter turnout was only 12%.
In a small town, guess who the police department works for? The city council. The city council, through the city manager, sets the police department budget. If the city police department has militarized equipment, it’s because the city board funded and/or allowed it. The city counsel could require the police to wear cameras, have community engagement goals, in short, do all the things the protesters are demanding.
All the protesters have to do, is run candidates that support their positions and actually turn out to vote. They could control their city council and reign in the police, all without the assistance of Eric Holder.
Of course, then they would be responsible for the results.