Problems in Ferguson Extend Beyond Grand Jury Decision


The problems in Ferguson, Missouri, will continue long after the grand jury’s decision is announced. The tensions in the community will undoubtedly be exacerbated if the U.S. Justice Department declines to pursue civil rights violations against Officer Darren Wilson. The real problem in Ferguson is the fact that the residents are stuck with a police department that seemingly lacks ethnic diversity, appears racially insensitive and is unwilling to admit changes within are necessary. The problems of the Ferguson Police Department are cultural and systemic.

As a retired, 20-year veteran police sergeant, I reject the notion that a professional, tactically trained, gun-toting police officer would fear an unarmed teenager. Police officers receive an inordinate amount of training, first in the academy and then continued in-service training. Police officers should expect, by virtue of their occupation, that interacting with the community can at times be contentious. Police officers are expected to rely on their training and common sense if confronted with an argumentative and uncooperative citizen. Police officers are not expected to take it personally when a citizen fails to follow an order given. So for Officer Wilson to initiate a traffic stop and then immediately escalate the situation to a deadly-force incident is, in my opinion, outrageous.

According to grand jury testimony leaks, Officer Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown because he (Wilson) was in fear. Wilson feared unarmed Mike Brown, 18-year-old Mike Brown, wounded and bleeding Mike Brown. Allegedly, this was Officer Wilson’s “state of mind” at the time he fired his weapon. OK, that may be true of the first two shots, but what about shots three through six? Police officers involved in a use-of-force incident, and especially a deadly-force incident, must explain the need for every round fired. What about Mike’s state of mind? Well, we will never know, because Mike is not here to tell us.

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