Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Dec  1, 2014)

Legacy of Ferguson


By Bob Cooper



Before the last fire was out in Ferguson, MO, “the experts” started weighing in following a pattern that’s become as predictable as the sun rising.  The average person who has common sense (as opposed to an agenda) can easily separate peaceful, lawful protesters from those like Michael Brown’s ex-convict stepdad who counseled the crowd to “burn this bitch down” and the opportunistic criminals who went ahead and did it but “the experts” see things a little differently.   

To them all of this violence, arson, and looting is symptomatic of a much greater societal problem and, as usual, the rest of us are to blame.  But not to worry.  “The experts” are lined up with sure-fire fixes like ‘community engagement’, ‘having a conversation’, ‘de-escalation’, and the old standby, ‘eliminating racial profiling’, all parroted by fawning media pundits who just need to fill time until the next airliner goes down or Kim Kardashian (speaking of going down) does another photo shoot.  This is the legacy of Ferguson and it bodes ill for front-line cops.   

As far as ‘community engagement’ goes, most of the blacks in Ferguson appear to be decent people who know the difference between right and wrong as evidenced by the fact that over half a dozen came forward, at no small risk, to give statements that supported Officer Wilson’s version of events.  There is simply no engaging the Michael Browns of this world or those who burn stores and steal liquor (all in the noble cause of keeping Michael’s memory alive of course).  Ann Coulter hit the nail on the head in her latest column with the following line:   “The looters aren't the community!  The community doesn't want black thugs robbing stores and sauntering down the middle of its streets. The community doesn't want to be assaulted by Big Mike. The community didn't want its stores burned down.”   

Another reality of ‘community engagement’ is that many ‘community leaders’ are using their positions as a springboard to politics.  Or an anchor spot at MSNBC.  They’re always looking for an issue and no matter how much goodwill or trust you think you’ve built up, they’ll turn on you in a heartbeat if doing so will get them 10 seconds on the news or a couple of potential votes. 

Arnold Minors, formerly of the Toronto Police Services Board, doesn’t share Chief Bill Blair’s rosy (and smugly Canadian) view of things but suggests that Blair “could turn it around tomorrow if he fired the first officer who was found guilty of racial profiling,” and adds ominously, “Ferguson, Missouri could just as easily happen in Toronto.”   (Some warn Ferguson and Toronto are not so different) 

The more fear they generate, the more you need them.  Racial Profiling is a phrase tossed around these days more freely than confetti at a wedding and most of ‘the experts’ who do the tossing don’t give the slightest thought to the fact that Brown and his pal were walking down the middle of a street obstructing traffic and all Officer Wilson did was to tell them to get back on the sidewalk.  Racial profiling?



Speaking of which, read the views of Toronto’s left on racial equality:   Canadian pro-Ferguson rally organizers ask whites to stay in background

Finally, there’s ‘de-escalation’ which has been practiced by cops for centuries but to listen to the U.S. Justice Department and ex-U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan you’d think they invented it, proving that you could take everything that DOJ lawyers know about street policing, and as my dad used to say, shove it up an ant’s ass and it would rattle around like BBs in a boxcar.  You’d have liked my dad.

Ferguson highlights police should focus on defusing conflict: experts.   Cops know that in a confrontation their most effective weapon is the ability to reason with people and avoid a fight but there are those who just can’t be reasoned with and when push comes to shove the cop has a job to do.  The saw cuts both ways here and I’d say that the one who should have ‘de-escalated’ was Michael Brown.  Most concerning is how the concept of ‘de-escalation’ is defined in the following sentence:  “We haven’t taught officers to just walk away,” said Cambridge, Massachusetts, Police Commissioner Robert Haas. “But if the only reason a person is acting up is because you’re standing there … isn’t that a viable approach?”

The message here seems to be that the worse you behave and the more threatening and confrontational you become, the more you’ll get away with and I don’t think that’s a message we want to send.  The rest of society can walk away but cops are bound by something unfamiliar to “the experts” called Duty.  Specifically the duty to protect people from those like Michael Brown and cops can’t walk away from that.  Nor should we start teaching them to. 

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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