It’s been almost two weeks since a police officer shot an unarmed man in Ferguson, Mo., and only in the last few days has the suburban St. Louis town started to calm down. In today's Friday Conversation, Dallas Police Chief David Brown talks about how he's managed to avoid that kind of unrest and whether law enforcement has become too militarized.
Interview Highlights: Chief David Brown...
...On whether he worries that a similar situation in Ferguson could happen in Dallas:
"I do. And it's not just the feelings people have, it's the history ... many instances I’m not so proud of, where the [Dallas] Police Department has treated some of the citizens. The Santos Rodriguez incident comes to mind... People tell those stories to their relatives and people don’t have short memories."
...On the heated public forum held earlier this week:
"You don’t say much. You listen a lot. They want to be heard, they don’t want to be talked to as much. And sometimes, their ‘talking to you’ is shouting at you, but I would much rather have a couple of hundred folks shouting at me in a church than on a protest line after a police shooting because ‘I never talked to them,’ or ‘I never listened to them,’ ‘I never had a meeting with them.’"
...On the dangers of militarizing the police department in a small town:
"The initial thoughts on equipping some of the police departments with heavier equipment was in response to 9-11 – it was a Homeland Security concern. It was built around larger cities -- like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia – that had potential targets. You wouldn’t have that in a small town."
On how communities like Ferguson can get past a situation like Michael Brown’s death:
"They need to get in the community and hear from those folks, and I can just tell you, I can only imagine that’s going to be, hearing people yell and scream and shout at you, but that’s part of the healing process. Once you get through that phase, you stay there, you don’t shun that."
Here’s a timeline from The Takeaway of events in Ferguson, Missouri: