DOJ to Announce It Has Eyes, Could See Disastrous Police Response to Ferguson Shooting
Sniper rifles aimed at protesters kind of a problem.
In today's "No, really?" news, some media outlets have gotten their hands on a confidential early draft of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) report analyzing how St. Louis-area police responded to the protests and anger that brewed in the wake of Michael Brown's shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Of course they declare it to have been awful, something everybody who saw the news coverage (or live streams from citizens in the area) could tell. From Reuters:
The Justice Department draft report, which covers actions over the 17 days following the Aug. 9 shooting, found that police lacked effective protocols to handle the events, were not adequately trained, struggled with communication and coordination, and made a series of mistakes that in some cases heightened tensions and spurred mistrust of the police.
The use of dogs for crowd control during the protests in Ferguson incited fear and anger in the crowd, according to the report, while the use of tear gas on people without warning in areas from which there was no safe retreat was also a problem.
In addition, police were inconsistent in using force and making arrests, the report said. Some officers removed their nameplates while working the protests, evading the accountability for their actions that is "fundamental," the Justice Department said.
The report also criticized police for positioning snipers atop armored vehicles to monitor the crowd through rifle sights, saying the tactic "served only to exacerbate tensions."
It found that law enforcement agencies set a negative tone for media relations by initially offering only limited public information about Brown's shooting, and said that police inhibited protesters constitutional rights to free speech during the protests.
The report has 45 "findings" and recommendations for improvement, according to Reuters.
Removing name tags to avoid identification isn't a "training issue" or a mistake, but a decision done with deliberate intent by a police officer seeking to act without consequences. These are the kinds of officers that should be looking for a new line of work, but I'm not expecting much.