Three newsworthy events occurred in Ferguson, Missouri last week. First, according to published reports, the two officers who were shot in the performance of their duties were released from the hospital and are recovering. Second, various news sources report the arrest of Jeffery Williams, a 20-year-old man in connection with the shootings. Williams was arrested this past Saturday and charged with two counts of first-degree assault.
The third noteworthy event is the restraint showed by the Ferguson Police Department in their search for the person or persons responsible for the shootings. By all accounts law enforcement officials conducted a thorough and respectful investigation that led to Williams’ arrest (although the arrest was made possible mainly by help from the public).
The character of the search is noteworthy because in too many cases law enforcement officials terrorize entire communities in order to effect an arrest. Such was the case in the search by Boston Police in 1989 for the suspected killers of Carol Stuart, and by police in Union, South Carolina in 1991 in response to the murder of Susan Smith’s two young children.
For example, after terrorizing the Mission Hill section of Boston (largely African American) and numerous innocent black males in Union, South Carolina, police later implicated Charles Stuart (a Caucasian) in his wife’s murder- no African American was involved, and arrested Susan Smith (Caucasian) for murdering her own children.
Unfortunately, in their search for the killers police randomly: stopped, searched, and arrested many black men innocent of involvement in either crime. Some of those men even had false charges drummed up against them. Because the crimes were high profile the violent police searches made national news and shocked some members of society.
Fortunately, the recent search in Ferguson, Missouri for the shooter of the two police officers reflects the antitheses of the tactics used by Boston police in 1989 and Union, South Carolina police in 1991. Hopefully, the referenced investigation by Ferguson, Missouri law enforcement officials represents a more just way in which police interact with all citizens.