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article imageOp-Ed: Ferguson rioters spit on the memory of Michael Brown

By Calvin Wolf     Aug 18, 2014 in Politics
Ferguson - It looked like we were about to see a true groundswell of support for community policing and a de-militarization of law enforcement...but then the Missouri governor had to call the National Guard into Ferguson. Rioters have spat on Michael Brown's memory.
I used to want to be a law enforcement officer. Specifically, I wanted to be an FBI agent, a shrewd gumshoe who would unravel the hurtful mysteries and stop the nefarious plots. I was 23 years old, finishing up a Master's degree, and was proud of my 4.0 GPA and gym-toned body. I was light on experience and rattled by the Great Recession, which crashed around me as I applied for any law enforcement job in the region to help get my foot in the door. Looking back, I was a bad fit to be a local cop: I was the preppy college boy from out-of-state, a Master's degree with no experience, and my short stature did not, as one state trooper put it, lend to a "command presence." Plus, I'm sure I reeked of federal ambition and not wanting to spend the next 25 years as a sheriff's deputy on backwoods patrol.
I met a lot of great cops during that period of my life, before I decided to make a change and pursue something more up my alley. I also met a lot of power-hungry men and women who could be described in much more colorful language. More than once was I blatantly discriminated against for something over which I had no control and had absolutely nothing to do with future job performance. I got to meet really good people, but I also got to see a little of the "thin blue line" in action.
We want to change the "thin blue line" in the wake of the tragic Michael Brown shooting, and I agree with that proposed change. I agree with critics who say we need to de-militarize law enforcement and seek more community policing. But, as a law-and-order type of person (I am a high school teacher), I'm also supportive of letting cops do a difficult job. You can't coddle; you must be firm.
Critics of the Ferguson, Missouri police department, and the hundreds of others like it across the nation, were about to see a true American groundswell for local law enforcement change...and then Missouri governor Jay Nixon had to send in the National Guard to quell rioters, reports CNN. By forcing the state to send in the National Guard, thus proving the need for militarization in law enforcement, rioters have undone the work of peaceful protesters and activists. Rioters have spat on the memory of Michael Brown, the young man whose tragic death at the hands of the Ferguson police prompted this crisis.
Was the police officer justified in shooting Michael Brown, allegedly in self-defense? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Honestly, few people can fathom what goes through the mind of a police officer during a struggle with a suspect, even an unarmed suspect. Brown was six-foot-four and imposing, perhaps the officer legitimately feared for his life, worried that the large 18-year-old could wrest the pistol from him if not fired upon. We need a prompt and thorough investigation. We need calm. Rioters are preventing this.
For armfuls of goods, rioters and preventing any meaningful change in law enforcement policy and in police culture. Many people see the rioting and re-affirm their belief that we need an aggressive "thin blue line" to prevent anarchy. I see the rioting in the news and think the same way. For armfuls of goods, rioters are fighting to maintain the status quo.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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