Ferguson Commission Calls for Regionalizing Police and Courts

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s “Ferguson Commission” has released its report, which includes 198 “calls to action.” The most important of those “calls” involve the commission’s recommendations for police departments and municipal courts to be merged into regional police departments and regional courts.
According to the commission’s website, “The Ferguson Commission is an independent group appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on November 18, 2014, to conduct a ‘thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality and safety in the St. Louis region.'” The commission was formed by the governor in the wake of riots and unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown. It can make recommendations, but it has no authority to enforce them.

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown on August 9, 2014. The shooting sparked protests and riots spreading from Ferguson to the rest of the country and led to increased interest in the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, which has called for the murder of police officers and white people.

Initial reports — which have since been shown to be false — were that Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown even though Brown was surrendering and had his hands in the air. As Deputy Chief of Police Tracy Basterrechea in Meridian, Idaho, told The New American, once erroneous information gets out — and the media run with it — people find it difficult to believe the actual truth:

You have to try to get the [complete] information out first because when the misinformation gets out, that’s the information that sticks. That is what happened in the Ferguson shooting. The misinformation got out and was the first thing people saw, and so it became “the gospel.”

What was not initially reported — and was largely ignored by most media even after the facts were known — is that Brown and and an accomplice had just robbed a convenience store of several packs of small cigars, assaulting a clerk in the process. When Officer Wilson saw them walking down the street, he recognized them from the description of the suspects. He blocked them with his police SUV and Brown then reached into the open window to attack the officer. Brown and Wilson struggled for Wilson’s sidearm until it was discharged inside the SUV. Brown and his accomplice, Dorian Johnson, ran away, and Wilson pursued them on foot. Brown then turned and charged toward Officer Wilson, who ordered Brown to stop. When he did not, Officer Wilson shot him several times.

Because of the widespread reporting of false information, the Ferguson shooting became a springboard for anti-police sentiment. It was seen as a clear case of racism: A white police officer shot an unarmed black “teenager.” The mainstream media and the “Black Lives Matter” crowd never mentioned that it could have been self-defense. White cop, black “teenager”: racism. The facts were not allowed to get in the way of the narrative.

However, when a grand jury heard testimony from witnesses and examined all the forensic evidence, it declined to indict Officer Wilson. A federal investigation by the Department of Justice also cleared the officer. Cue the riots. And cue the pressure for state and federal intervention in the affairs of local police. The Ferguson case has been a classic power play involving pressure from above and pressure from below, with local police caught in the middle.

In response to the riots, Governor Nixon empaneled the Ferguson Commission to conduct a “thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality and safety in the St. Louis region.” If it sounds political, that is because it is.

Now the commission has published its report, in which it states, “Make no mistake: This is about race.” The report claims that blacks are unfairly targeted for everything from traffic stops to fines to court costs to arrests. The solutions? Merge police departments into larger regional police departments and merge courts into larger regional courts. Restrict police ability to use force. Raise the minimum wage. Create better educational and transportation and job opportunities.

Written by C. Mitchell Shaw
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