By Henry Solis
A U.S. Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson Police Department found that the city budget was dependent on the revenue collected by municipal fines and fees. The City Officials constantly told Chief Jackson to help generate more revenue through enforcement; by handing out more citations to people who do not deserve them. This has affected the community in many ways, it has caused minorities to become targets.
Just in the year 2013, the court issued over 9,000 arrest warrants in which a large portion of those cases were for minor violations. Even though many people did not deserve to even be arrested let alone incarcerated, Ferguson’s Municipal Court issued warrants and ordered these people to be arrested for minor fines.
After the Death of Michael Brown in August of 2014, there has a been a major increase in the distrust of the Ferguson Police Department from the residents of the neighborhood especially the African American Neighborhoods.
The statistics compiled in this investigation show that there is an undeniable racial targeting among African Americans. Some of the statistics that were found are as followed:
Data collected by the Ferguson Police Department from 2012 to 2014 shows that African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population. African Americans are more than twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops even after controlling for non-race based variables such as the reason the vehicle stop was initiated, but are found in possession of contraband 26% less often than white drivers, suggesting officers are impermissibly considering race as a factor when determining whether to search. African Americans are more likely to be cited and arrested following a stop regardless of why the stop was initiated and are more likely to receive multiple citations during a single incident.
Clearly, African Americans are victims of inequalities in the Ferguson Community. They are being searched and charged at a larger rate compared to their white counterparts. Even though African Americans are being racially profiled by the Ferguson Police department, they have been caught in possession of an illegal weapon or substance less than White people; so why is it that even though this is true, they are still being targeted and searched by police far more than white people?
This has affected the community in many ways. The residents of Ferguson no longer trust the authorities. In some instances people have even lost their jobs. For example, in the case of Michael, 32 year-old African American, who was just sitting in his car after a basketball game; he ended up getting arrested and receiving 8 charges. This not only forced him to pay the fines but he even lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had for years. African American citizens live in constant fear of being targeted; an African American minister of a church does not allow his two sons to drive through Ferguson out of “fear that they will be targeted for arrest”. There have been many counts of people who have complained about being verbally abused by police officers and they have also been intimidated. It has been reported by many of the residents that the officers routinely have had there hands on their guns during a traffic stop, it has even gotten to the point where an officer is pointing his gun at the suspects he is talking to.
When the police officers mistreat its citizens it causes a lack of trust within the residents and the police department officers. This eventually leads to individuals resisting cooperating with law enforcement. The only way that the police department can improve the community trust is by ensuring that its officers are obeying the law and they need to treat all of the residents equally regardless of their race, gender, or ethnicity. Even when people have called to the police department to ask for help, they have often times been arrested. One victim of this had called the police to report a domestic disturbance. After the incident, she was arrested and jailed for the violation of a home occupancy permit. An officer reported she stated that she “hated the Ferguson Police Department and will never call again, even if she is being killed”. Instead of the police officers using these disturbance calls as a way of regaining the trust from its citizens, they are abusing their power and arresting the victims.