2.) Civilian Oversight
3.) At Will Employment
4.) Eric Holder
1.) Chris Hayes
I haven’t formally met Chris Hayes of MSNBC but our paths crossed on the second Sunday of rioting back in August. At the moment I saw the man back in August in the parking lot of the McDonalds at Ferguson Ave and W. Florissant, he was standing by himself with his mouth collapsed and absolutely terrified eyes. I referred to Mr. Hayes back in my post Bloody Sunday as an unnamed MSNBC correspondent whom I recognized but didn’t know by name. Obviously, I know his name now. I had been a little preoccupied during the grand jury aftermath to see what he was up to during that time. I stumbled upon this interesting video in the process of rectifying that oversight. With Mr. Hayes being a critic of supposed police militarization in reference to St. Louis area police, I find a great deal of irony watching him cower away from gunfire on a night that has forever justified police militarization even in areas that are not a fraction as dangerous as Ferguson was during the rioting.
2.) Civilian Oversight
I don’t have a problem with civilian oversight boards or police boards, or whatever form they take. The problem is not what they stand for, nor what they do. The problem is that their mere existence is a redundancy meant to take accountability away from already in place governmental leadership. The hiring and firing of police officers and administrators is a task already assigned to mayors, city administrators, and alder-people. These same entities are capable of conducting their own investigations and making their own human resources decisions, as they do with any other number of governmental bodies under their purview.
However, policing tends to be a topic of strong opinions. For example, if I’m the mayor of a small city in North St. Louis County and for the sake of argument, a police officer from my department shoots a suspect in a controversial action, the ultimate decision on whether or not to fire that officer rests with me through others whom I directly supervise. Of course, that decision should be based upon the facts, but the decision is still mine nonetheless. Should I decide to fire that officer, I will likely draw the ire of some people. Should I decide to keep that officer employed, I will likely draw the ire of other people.
The solution to this controversy in many municipalities is to pass the buck and assign another group to take the blame for whatever decision is eventually chosen. That way, no matter who is angry at the end of the process, I can say that it wasn’t my fault and it was up to the board. Never mind the fact that I’m responsible for the board.
Once again, having an independent set of civilian eyes to review controversial cases is not a bad thing. The only problem is that we already have elected officials who are supposed to represent the civilian population in an objective capacity and be empowered to make hiring and firing decisions in reference to government. Mayors are elected. Alder-people and city council-people are elected. Why does the city of St. Louis need a police board when it already has a board of Alderman and a mayor?
If they are not properly representing their constituents as it pertains to the police department, the answer is to elect a new mayor and alder-people. The answer is not to give established politicians yet another cave to hide from responsibility.
3.) At Will Employment
There seems to be a perception shared by many that unions are to blame for many of the Police related HR problems prevalent throughout the St. Louis Region. What they don’t understand is that the state of Missouri is an at will employment state and not particularly known to be union friendly. The FOP as it pertains to this region is also not exactly a union in the most traditional sense in that it lacks the teeth to do much and is more associated with resources for individual officers than entire departments.
Think about any job you’ve ever had and imagine how much being the only union member would accomplish. How much protection do you think you’ll have if for example you call in sick for a week in solidarity with other members not within your department? The FOP definitely has resources that can be beneficial and should not be discounted for those capacities. However, to pretend that any Police Department in the state of Missouri is represented by a traditional union with the ability to strike and make other demands of administrators is an absolute falsehood. The municipal government situation allows for bad officers to jump around, not the FOP and not mystical unions that don’t actually exist in this state.
4.) Eric Holder
There have been some who blame Barack Obama for the actions of the Justice Department. However, I’m convinced that what we’ve been seeing in reference to Ferguson and the Justice Department overstepping it’s bounds has had very little to do with the President. It’s rare but I’m actually with the Ferguson Twitter Brigade on this one in that I don’t think the President is responsible because I don’t really think he cares about people in what he sees as a town of sixteen thousand in a fly-over state. It’s beneath him.
Eric Holder on the other hand seems like a true believer. His actions and his words have indicated that he believes that we were to blame for the riots back in August and should be punished. The fact that there were no investigations from his office in reference to the following:
-Identity theft of officers and police administrators
-Threats against Ferguson witnesses who speak to the police
-Arsons targeting businesses perceived to employ or be employed by snitches
-Active shooters along I-70 shooting into vehicles
-Racial epithets against black officers
-Use of incendiary and explosive devices
…but concerns raised in reference to name tags and mandated constitutional rights cards, is all the evidence of bias I need. The fact that he has drug his feet for so long holding onto a report he knows the results of is just the end of an extremely long and messed up political game. The rumor seems to be that at the moment Darren Wilson will not be charged with a constitutional rights violation but the Ferguson Police Department may be sanctioned for something petty. I wonder to what extent the “wholesale change” he stated was necessary within Ferguson will actually take place.