The DOJ recently released its full investigation into the Ferguson Police Department. You know the stereotype of cops being jerks? Multiply that stereotype one hundredfold, add a copious amount of racism and greed, and you have yourself the FPD.
Currently, the media has been harping on the systemic racism prevalent within the police force, especially with the leaked e-mails. Seriously, if you want proof that America isn’t a “post-racial society”, just read a few of those e-mails.
But perhaps most telling about this investigation is how these public servants, whom were hired to protect and serve the public good, were—hold onto your hats for this one!—abusing their positions to make money:
Ferguson officials repeatedly behaved as if their priority is not improving public safety or protecting the rights of residents, but maximizing the revenue that flows into city coffers, sometimes going so far as to anticipate decreasing sales tax revenues and urging the police force to make up for the shortfall by ticketing more people. Often, those tickets for minor offenses then turned into arrest warrants.B-b-but they're with the government—the public sector! They’re not supposed to care about the bottom line. They’re not supposed to be driven by greed like the private sector. They’re supposed to be public servants whom are driven solely by altruism to work for the public good.
Police officers were judged not only on the number of stops they made, but on the number of citations they issued. "Officers routinely conduct stops that have little relation to public safety and a questionable basis in law," the report states. "Issuing three or four charges in one stop is not uncommon. Officers sometimes write six, eight, or, in at least one instance, fourteen citations for a single encounter." Some officers compete to see who can issue the most citations in a single stop.
In one email, the police chief, who also oversees the municipal court, brags to the city manager about how much revenue it is generating. Ignoring that conflict of interest is a recipe for a justice system that bleeds the powerless of their meager resources.
Gee, it’s almost as if making a service “public” doesn’t magic away profit motive. Seems like the only thing that disappears is incentive to offer a good service—because if people are forced to pay for your service, regardless of whether or not you’re doing a good job, why bother doing a good job? It’s almost as if giving people a monopoly on force and coercion is, well, bad!