What We Can Learn From Ferguson, Missouri

What We Can Learn From Ferguson, Missouri

5:54pm Nov 25, 2014

As the nation digests the news coming out of Missouri, a local law professor who studies police culture says there are lessons that can be learned from it, but says reports of violence are overshadowing the problem. 

Wake Forest Law Professor and Director of Criminal Justice Program Kami Chavis Simmons says is the underlying issue is how poor communities and those of color are policed. 

"We can’t be afraid to say that there are many communities that daily feel like they are under assault. They feel like the police officers are not there to protect them and that’s a problem," says Simmons.  "We know that most police officers, 99 percent of police officers, are doing the right thing. They’re putting their lives on the lines and so when you have a few bad apples or you have a department that has some endemic problems we need to address that."   

Simmons says increased training, camera surveillance and more transparency within the justice system will help local communities improve relationships between police and the public. She adds that more diversity in police departments at all levels help as well, but she warns that it's a solution that can oversimplify the problem.

"Because if you have a problem in your police department, if you have a culture of group loyalty, a culture of aggressive policing, than having a diverse police force is not going to cure that." 

 

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