Penny-Ante Police Harassment and the Poor

The other day I wrote:

[Cars owned by African-Americans in Ferguson] are stopped at about a 6x higher rate for "equipment" deficiencies than whites.  Nitpicky regulations on car conditions (in Arizona your licence plate frame cannot cover any part of the word "Arizona" on the licence plate) are the great bugaboo of the poor and a nearly unlimited warrant for the police to stop minorities.  Mexicans here in Phoenix will tell me "woe to the Mexican who drives around here with a broken tail light -- he will be pulled over 3 times a day to have his immigration status checked".  In Phoenix, at least, stops for equipment issues are roughly the equivalent of pulling someone over for "driving while brown."  Even beyond the open-ended warrant these silly violations give the police, the fines and court costs create meaningful indebtedness problems for the poor which are hard to overcome.

Alex Tabarrok highlights some numbers from Arch City Defenders

new report from Arch City Defenders, a non-profit legal defense organization, shows that the Ferguson municipal courts are a stunning example of these problems:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of
residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

If you have money, for example, you can easily get a speeding ticket converted to a non-moving violation. But if you don’t have money it’s often the start of a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of

I can testify to that last point.  I worked in the Emerson Electric headquarters for a couple of years, which ironically is located in one corner of Ferguson.  One of the unwritten bennies of working there was the in house legal staff.  It was important to make a friend there early.  In Missouri they had some bizarre law where one could convert a moving violation to a non-moving violation.  A fee still has to be paid, but you avoid points on your license that raises insurance costs (and life insurance costs, I found out recently).  All of us were constantly hitting up the in-house legal staff to do this magic for us.  I am pretty sure most of the residents of Ferguson do not have this same opportunity.

  • mharris717

    As a teenager I got a bunch (5-10) of "60 in a 40" type tickets. More than half of them were turned into non-moving violations. Basically you have to catch the prosecutor on a good day while not being a minority. You end up paying more up front, and I believe a lot more money goes to the city, which is why they're willing to do it.

  • mahtso

    The filter at work will not let me access the report, but the obvious question is whether these fines are all being paid by citizens of Ferguson. As to the point that those with resources are treated better than those without, see OJ's murder trial which proved that rich black men can get away with murder, just like rich white men.

  • NL7

    Lots of St. Louis law firms assigned junior attorneys to traffic ticket duty to fix the tickets of employees and clients. It's not really fair, basically a way to funnel small amounts of money to lawyers. Some towns here thrive on tickets, and having even a small patch of interstate can sometimes help make a town financially viable - just from the tickets generated. They get the converted fees, so they are fine with the system.

  • HenryBowman419

    The rate for robberies and burglaries in Ferguson is sky-high, not "about average".

  • HCE

    Not that I condone the government abusing it's power. But it's probably the only option to keep feeding the beast of the government. They ran a deficit of $5,733,000.00 last year and are on pace (prior to paying all this overtime to police and fire no doubt) for a 7.3 million deficit this year. Remember, Ferguson is smaller in area than the phoenix comparison area of Indian school road to Van Buren, and central to 24th (6.2 sq.mi.). They probably aren't able to raise 9 million to offset the deficit and fee/fines that they need to break even. They would have to raise property taxes by 6 times the current rate to absorb that. they would have to raise business taxes (franchise taxes) 5 times their current limit. we all know how hard it would be to move your business two miles down the road in the face of a 5 fold raise in your taxes. it just wouldn't close the gap without an exodus of tax paying residents or businesses.

    Where I am going with this is that the probably liberal voting base would not stand to vote for anyone that takes away any services currently offered by the government, further, they would probably not vote for anyone that didn't offer to at least increase the current offerings by at least a small amount (which in liberal math means a cut if you raise less than they think you should). So you're not going to get a decrease in expenditures with that voting base. Where do tell will the money come from? I don't know, but the city limits on Google shows them stopping just south of the 270 interstate. If they can't ticket that highway, then they can't reasonably soak only the pass through traffic, cause come on, who passes through ferguson if not by the interestates that surround/bypass it. The only option is to start to extort the locals with other means of taxation.

    Hey, reduction of your ticket to get it off the record, but a fine still collected by the local government is fine by them. anything that can increase revenue to pay for the rather large government America is trending towards. More or less, this may serve as a warning to some communities, specifically ones that are landlocked and small in size, that are heading towards a larger and larger government. No large developers moving in to soak for impact fees. No big companies wanting to move there. But the same large government built on projections of everlasting growth. How will it be fed?

  • Matthew Slyfield

    This is probably why the Ferguson PD is so big.

    The national average for the size of PDs is 17 officers/10K pop. Ferguson with a ~21K pop has 53 officers for ~26 officers/10K pop.

  • bigmaq1980

    Would love to quote this elsewhere. Do you have a link I can use?

  • bigmaq1980

    I can accept that argument...partially.

    The answer is not always to "do less with less". Do these bureaucrats and politicians even try to figure out how to do more with less? As a suburb of a large metro area, have they even considered outsourcing some of the services (if not contracting it out to private providers)? I bet they don't even try, if Detroit is any example.

    Eventually it gets far enough along that it becomes a crisis and, yes, the voting base won't then want to hear about the hardship that is required to correct course. Of course, do any politicians even try to make the case? Have they ever?

  • Matthew Slyfield

    You can use this for the national average.

    http://www.governing.com/gov-data/safety-justice/police-officers-per-capita-rates-employment-for-city-departments.html

    Note: the data they have only covers cities with populations > 50k, so you will have to look elsewhere for the Ferguson data. I found several news articles that quote the 53 officers figure.

  • Sam L.
  • Matthew Slyfield

    One thing that would probably help quite a bit with their budget woes would be to downsize their police dept. to the national average of 17 officers per 10K population.

    The Ferguson PD also has a pending lawsuit for a prior incident where they arrested someone who had the same name as someone they had a warrant for, beat him severely then had the gall to charge him with destruction of police property for bleeding on the uniforms of the officers who beat him.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/15/the-day-ferguson-cops-were-caught-in-a-bloody-lie.htm

  • Matthew Slyfield

    A lot of the residents of would probably be glad to trade somewhat higher property taxes for cutting back on the fines. All these petty fines, cost the residents more than the amount of the fine. Time out from work for court appearances, not to mention the face to face harassment from the cops.

  • bigmaq1980

    Evidently, thanking two posters is considered "spam", so were each blocked. Thanks guys!

    Found this for the 53 number, in case anyone else reading is looking:
    http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/aug/17/andrea-mitchell/ferguson-police-department-has-50-white-officers-t/

  • marque2

    My town doesn't have a police department, we use county sheriffs, and of course the city pays for their service - but I think it isn't as much, because the sheriffs also need an outpost in the area, and it is pretty convenient to be in our town, while patrolling the adjacent unincorporated areas.

  • marque2

    If you are a minority, I would imagine you walk away for free.

  • bigmaq1980
  • wreckinball

    But the issue is not about traffic stops. Brown was walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic after having robbed a convenience store.

    I guess that's ok?

  • David in Michigan

    Thanks for the chuckle: "Mexicans here in Phoenix will tell me "woe
    to the Mexican who drives around here with a broken tail light -- he
    will be pulled over 3 times a day to have his immigration status
    checked". In Phoenix, at least, stops for equipment issues are roughly
    the equivalent of pulling someone over for "driving while brown."

    These must not be "real" Mexicans as real Mexicans are very well accustomed to being pulled over in Mexico for all manner of nonsense. Maybe they're "U.S. Mexicans", you know, anchor babies. The only difference between the U.S. and Mexico is that the traffic fine is "often" collected on the spot in Mexico and consequently DOES NOT go to the government coffers......... lived there, been there, done that. Pobre Mexicanos. Oppressed everywhere they go. Most would prefer to take their driving risks in Phoenix if they could just get there.

    I suggest that you live in Mexico for a while. And I'm not talking about in one of those American gated communities but in the real Mexico, you know, in one of the barrios. Your understanding of things would change dramatically.

  • HCE

    A reasonable person would probably want to pay more, I do. I choose to live in a county that has a higher property tax rate. But Ferguson is probably not reasonable. It is also not a suburb in the sense most people think of suburbs. It's the suburb that's right near the airport. It's the suburb that's between interstates. The population statistics from city-data.com state that the average house in ferguson is $91,808. the median household income is $36,121. for those that confuse average and median, that means that of the 8192 households, 4096 of them make less than $36,121 a year. Do you believe that they would gladly pay property taxes in the 1000 dollar range to avoid being busted by the police?

    Once again, you or I might make that trade. But I bet that they just feel like their chances of avoiding the cops are better odds than paying the taxman up front. It's one reason poorer neighborhoods play the lottery at a higher percentage and as a larger percentage of income than the middle class. They think that they can get lucky, math be darned.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "But I bet that they just feel like their chances of avoiding the cops are better odds than paying the taxman up front.?"

    Ferguson has 3 arrest warrants and 1.5 court cases per household per year. Do you believe that anyone in Ferguson believes that they can avoid the cops? I bet that their chances of avoiding the cops approach zero.

  • xtmar

    Disagree.

    The national average, per the Justice Department, is closer to 1 non-federal officer per 400, (765k officers for 310MM population) in which case Ferguson is almost at the mean.

    http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea08.pdf

  • http://itsaboutliberty.com/index.php MNHawk

    That kind of banana republic governance isn't limited to Ferguson, poor towns, black towns, whatever towns. My Number one ranked Money Magazine suburb so relies on harassment revenue, our city revenue suffered, last year, do to the cops having too much real crime to handle.

    By the way, my city loves their road blocks, set up to nothing but harass, and to write $150 tickets for things as minor as non seat belt usage. See, they need to stop you, to inspect the back seat passengers.

  • HCE

    which is about the same as hitting the lotto, but I bet they still play it. Averages, somehow spreads the entire probability to a certainty in the way you phrase it. The stats may point out the almost certainty that you will be harassed, thrown a trumped up or vague BS charge and face fines and court time. Tempting you to plead down to avoid the hassle of the bogus charges or even legit but rarely enforced laws in other municipalities. But everyone thinks that it's the other guys problem, or the neighbors problem. Somehow it won't be them. Especially since they are smarter than most their friends.

    I guess I could concede the point that if faced with the decision they would prefer to pay more taxes and less fines, but If making sound economical choices were the norm and not the exception, wouldn't they be making more than 30k a year per household? Or living in a city that runs a deficit of 7.3 million, which is 38% of it's revenue? If I am a smart person, smarter than the average bear, do I try to convince all my neighbors to chip in 1000 a year in taxes (a 3% tax to the median household income) to rid their society of the bully police? Or do I move 2 miles down the road to a better place? Also they do have that choice most the time every November. And they have obviously chosen a government that chooses to spend more than the people can pay for, then does horrible things to the people that put them there to pay for their jobs to be safe and secure and they can always run on the were keeping our streets safe platform...vote for more!

  • Matthew Slyfield

    You are wrong.

    The 17 officers per 10K pop comes from here: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/safety-justice/police-officers-per-capita-rates-employment-for-city-departments.html

    1) 17 officers per 10k pop = 1 per 588 pop. 1 non-federal officer per 400 = 25K non-federal officers per 10K pop. Not as big a difference as you think (and yours is still smaller than the Ferguson PD).

    2) The 17 per 10K average is strictly for the municipal PDs. The 1 non-federal officer per 400 (25 per 10K) you quote includes state troopers and county sheriffs deputies, but including those says nothing about the size of the Ferguson PD one way or the other.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "But everyone thinks that it's the other guys problem, or the neighbors problem. Somehow it won't be them."

    Given 3 arrest warrants and 1.5 court cases per household per year I rather doubt that you could find anyone in Ferguson that fits the described attitude.

    "I guess I could concede the point that if faced with the decision they would prefer to pay more taxes and less fines"

    Again, especially for the poor, the fines cost more than just money.

    " If I am a smart person, smarter than the average bear, do I try to
    convince all my neighbors to chip in 1000 a year in taxes (a 3% tax to
    the median household income) to rid their society of the bully police?"

    Where do you get the $1000 from? What makes you think that that is what it would take to replace the lost revenue from the fines.

    Getting rid of the bully police doesn't just mean the loss of the fine revenue, it also results in a significant reduction in the city's annual budget from the downsized PD.

    "If making sound economical choices were the norm and not the exception,
    wouldn't they be making more than 30k a year per household?"

    Sure, you can look at it that way if you reduce it to just an economic decision, but these people are also suffering a lot of costs that aren't directly economic in nature from the over sized PD, so it isn't just an economic decision.

  • frankania

    I do live in the real Mexico, Cordoba, Veracruz, and have since 1988. I almost never get stopped by traffic cops.
    Once, after my daughter's wedding, I was pulled over taking a bunch of wedding-guests home at 2 AM. Since there was no traffic at that hour, I WAS speeding a little, and had imbibed some wine, of course. The cops said they should take me in to the station to book me, hinting that the fine would be around $50. I had a feeling they were bluffing, so I handed the car keys to a friend and said "you take these guests home--I have to go with the cops". Suddenly they said "well, maybe the fine could be less, uh..." So I said I only had $20 with me and they could take it and "pay the fine for me, no?" Then I drove off (at a slower speed, of course).
    In general, life here is MUCH easier than when I lived in PA, USA. There, I was robbed 4 times in 5 years, spent my time dealing with useless bureaucrats (I owned my own electronic business & construction company) and life was expensive.
    Here we make about $25k/year and live like royalty, in a perfect climate at 3200 feet altitude, with a gardener and part-time maid.

  • hce

    As stated above, they are looking at a 9 million deficit when you take out the ticket and fine revenue. In order to make a politician remove an income source, you probably need to close that deficit gap with something. I can sure bet you that they won't be closing any government branches down. in order to be netural, they would need to raise 1000 per household.

    All I was saying is that when looking at a small tiny city with an operation that is 7 million (38% over) deficit spending, that you won't get them to stop a cash cow like those red light cameras etc. Yeah, they have those in Ferguson. Guess what happens if you don't throw your 50 or 60 bucks in the mail when you get one of those in the mail? Assuming you have the correct address to plate in the DMV system. how many of those do think turn into warrants? which of course turn into a court case when they finally catch up to you.

    Look, there's no moral excuse for bully cops. But your idea that people with a median income of ~36k would cheer you and elect you to office on the campaign of raising the property or sales taxes to eliminate the revenue grab by the police plus not need to enact it by eliminating the deficit to reasonable levels, you're smokin too much recreational medicine. When people that have no real disposable income, or savings account, they don't cheer for more taxes. Nor do they mail in their tickets. which results in warrants. I doubt that the courts would take a letter back saying thanks for the ticket, I don't have money right now, but I'll get you back next month. Yeah, they typically just put that one back on the pile and try to collect again next month.

    I don't agree with the government bully system that they obviously have. But until you can tell me how their government can operate without that revenue, let me know. the reduction in police force hardly would do it. they have 42 regular officers on the payroll (2013-14 budget). could you cut enough of them, and still provide some level of police protection? I am sure that the store clerk that the gentle giant "allegedly" robbed and physically / mentally dominated without a weapon would tend to think that there needs to be some police in Ferguson.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Their oversized PD probably soaks up a significant chunk of their budget. Cut the size of the PD down to the national average, loose all the military hardware and that alone will probably offset a lot of the lost ticket revenue.

  • hce

    http://www.fergusoncity.com/172/City-Budget and http://www.fergusoncity.com/DocumentCenter/View/1609
    is the direct link to 2013-14 budget.
    Go to page 100 of the pdf i think for the police breakdown. There are 65 full time employees, including sectaries and dispatchers, etc. I guess it depends on what you call an officer. The chief doesn't ride around giving tickets. Sergeants do though ride around, but mainly to supervise or train. the lieutenants, captains, and chief are desk jockeys. Not that I would mind letting them go, but in a 7 day shift, you need at least 5 people to run with minimal loss time (sick, vacation, suspension may be coming soon, etc.). more like 6 are needed to ran a skeleton crew with average time loss. They have 7. not overkill by any means. That means that they have 42 officers and 5 sergeants. If they ran 24-7 40 hr shifts, they could have 11 officers on shift at all times. No sick or vacation time or holidays included. we all know how government would react to that. anyway, now if governing.com is the bible, then they are overkill for the national average. But they are essentially a micro-city of St. Louis. not some small town. the 3400+ citizens per sq.mi is pretty dense. How many does good ole Saint Louey have? all around them? 58 per 10k population? per governing.com. I don't know that the 17 per 10k is "normal" by any metric. It's almost meaningless without economic and sociological analysis. I didn't see anything on that website to state whether or not they include desk jockey's in their numbers.

    anyway, go ahead and cut them back to mayberry status. city-data.com lists 1121 serious crimes in Ferguson in 2012. that's rape, murder, assault, robbery, car theft, etc. not jaywalking. violent crime was above the national average, while property crime was almost double the national average, no doubt the gentle giant and his fiends like to borrow other peoples things a lot in Ferguson. unless the cops were planting the stolen goods on the good people of Ferguson, then it's not bully cops making that go. Show me how 35 cops would be normal, and how Ferguson wouldn't become Detroit Devils Night - 365 days a year.

    I suspect that Ferguson has plenty of problems, serious ones, without bully cops. One road they went down probably a long time ago was probably to get tough on crime, which they probably had plenty of. Problem is that they can't afford to fund that police force without taxes, which due to the local economic issues, they won't ever get. but they will keep on spending that money and doing what they can to fund it by any means. is it the cops fault for that, or the people that voted in the cops masters? That promised more protection, lower crime, better schools, and more sunshine in the winter. Of course now, with unions etc. the bloated cops are probably more the masters.

  • smilerz

    In Illinois it's transparent. If you are willing to spend an extra $250 and attend a 4 hour "safe driving class" you can get 'court supervision' and avoid having the ticket reported to your insurance agent. Simply check the box on the ticket and mail it in.

  • Dwall

    Easy solution. Ferguson PD and city got should be 70% black and stand back and watch it work, no more discrimination. Ferguson has been a dangerous place for years as demographics changed, let it spiral down. Wonder how many reporters stay in Ferguson?

  • Matthew Slyfield

    " How many does good ole Saint Louey have? all around them? 58 per 10k population?"

    And your evidence that Saint Louis itself isn't over policed is what exactly?

    "city-data.com lists 1121 serious crimes in Ferguson in 2012."
    " Show me how 35 cops would be normal, and how Ferguson wouldn't become Detroit Devils Night - 365 days a year."

    A little simple math will show where you are going wrong. 1121 serious crimes / 365 days per year = 3.07 serious crimes per day.

    " That means that they have 42 officers and 5 sergeants. If they ran 24-7 40 hr shifts, they could have 11 officers on shift at all times."

    Your math implies an average of 4 shifts per day. so if they cut down to a total of 36 (32 officers and 4 sergeants) that still allows 8 officers per shift.

    Even if you assume that all 3 daily crimes occur during the same shift, it's hard to see how 3 crimes is too much for 8 officers to handle.

  • obloodyhell

    }}} In Missouri they had some bizarre law where one could convert a moving violation to a non-moving violation.

    While I sympathize on the misuse of such laws, the simple fact is, they're still pretty easy to avoid if you live there and know about it: Don't commit moving violations. Unless they're actually expressly targeting blacks for moving violations (i.e., statistically, more blacks get STOPPED for moving violations) this is not racist at all.

    Just northeast of where I live is one of the most well-known speed traps in all of the USA, Waldo, Florida. It's on AAA's list of 3 speed traps (well, two, now, since one of them, Hampton, just lost its incorporation for general, all around corruption). I've never, ever gotten a speeding ticket there, despite having been through there a few dozen times. You know why? I *know* it's a speed trap, and I do the freaking speed limit.

    So you have, in America, at least two ways of avoiding this problem of Ferguson:
    1) Obey the law carefully
    2) FREAKIN' A MOVE. Hop on a bus. Skedaddle. Find another place to live.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "And the moral of the story, here, Frank, is, 'If you're walking on eggs, don't hop'."
    - 'Blue Thunder' -
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I've seen little here in this commentary that doesn't involve predation upon the poor, not the blacks. There's nothing in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that says there will be no downside to being poor.

    P.S.:
    }}}} The majority (67%) of residents are African-American

    This, mind you, also leaves option #3 open --
    3) Get together and take over the freakin' government and repeal the usage of these laws.

    So again, I have little ruth for anyone "suffering" from this problem. There are three solutions that could fix everything within 5 years for anyone who lived there.

  • obloodyhell

    Yeah, well, we have allowed this crap to happen these days, when we didn't rip governments a new asshole for random stop and frisk behaviors two-three decades ago...It's not going to get better, with heavily armed and armored cops.

  • obloodyhell

    The key part is that he also attacked the cop, who suffered a serious facial fracture from the attack, was not fully mentally alert as a result of the beating, and probably had every reason to feel threatened and in fear for his life when the much larger, younger, and heavier Brown charged him (yes, the claim that he was shot in the back has also been debunked).

    But of course, it was a white cop shooting a black man, so there's NO other possible explanation than racism and "keeping the brothers down".

    P.S., I'm placing penny bets that the toxicology report on Brown also shows he was using PCP.

  • HCE

    so we forget misdemeanors, traffic stops, etc.? Forget vacation time? I can't prove a negative, but you still haven't show how 17 is the norm any more than I can prove 58 is normal for St. Louis. That national average is not a one size fits all. The national average salary of an accountant wouldn't buy you a part time janitor in new york city or San Fransisco. but you keep throwing out there how it's normal to have only 17 per 10k. Your math on 36 total officers on the street (7*24=168 hours a week) says 8 would suffice. it would take 4.2 officers to cover a week with one on shift at all times. but that does not include ANY vacation or Holiday coverage. we typically lose 12% to sick, vacation and holiday time at my company. Then there's court time for cops, etc. I just don't see how you believe you could staff a police department by hanging your hat on this 17 officers per 10k national average.

    Since we are in love with national averages. 240 million calls are made to 911 each year. That would be about 0.75 911 calls per person. SO Ferguson on average would have 15,750 911 calls a year. EMS Update newsletter stated that over 36 million 911 calls were for EMS in the US, not a huge amount. crank calls are an issue, but often require a response. so we can state fairly clearly that a good guess is that 50% or more 911 calls are for the police. That's more than 43 a day for the police in Ferguson. throw in traffic enforcement. arrest, transport, filing/records of incident report time and I think that you grossly underestimate what a community the size and density of Ferguson needs in the way of police. Going by national averages of course.

    Now should they be pushing the fee/fine arrests to pay for themselves? I wouldn't want my police force doing that. But would i also want them to ticket somebody going 35 down my street where my kids play? yeah.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    " I just don't see how you believe you could staff a police department by
    hanging your hat on this 17 officers per 10k national average."

    17/10K is the national average for all cities with at least 50K pop. That means that at least have the cities in the US with 50K + pop are staffed with 17/10K or fewer officers. I believe that it can be done, because I know that it has been done.

    "Ferguson on average would have 15,750 911 calls a year. EMS Update
    newsletter stated that over 36 million 911 calls were for EMS in the US,
    not a huge amount. crank calls are an issue, but often require a
    response. so we can state fairly clearly that a good guess is that 50%
    or more 911 calls are for the police. That's more than 43 a day for the
    police in Ferguson. throw in traffic enforcement."

    No, that's not more than 43 a day for the Ferguson police. The 15750/365 = 43.2 calls per day, and that's before you take out the EMS calls.

    Based on your numbers, 15% of 911 calls are for EMS, for Furguson then, that would be 2363. 15750-2363 = 13387 calls for the Ferguson PD, though if Ferguson is anything like where I live, at least some of those would actually go to the Saint Louis county Sheriffs office, not the Ferguson PD. 13387 call per year = 37 calls per day. Divided over 3 8 hour shifts per day is just over 12 calls per shift. Divide over 8 officers per shift is 1.5 calls per officer per day. Hmm, still doesn't seem overwhelming for a 17 officers / 10K pop PD even with all the other overhead hours you mention.

    " throw in traffic enforcement. arrest, transport, filing/records of
    incident report time and I think that you grossly underestimate what a
    community the size and density of Ferguson needs in the way of police."

    I think you grossly overestimate what any community of any size needs in the way of police, and you have come nowhere near a convincing case that I am wrong and you are right.

  • HCE

    You still hang your hat on "knowing" that 17/10k is 100% awesome sauce. Since you are right and "know" that 17 officers is the absolute limit any city should ever need per 10k residents, regardless of socioeconomic status and urban density; do you think that Ferguson lowering their force by 8 officers and one or two sergeants is going to fix their 7 million deficit, plus throw in the loss of the penny ante fines and fees that rake in over two million a year? at best using the 100k per officer average cost, they save one million? The question still remains, will they be able to fund the remaining officers, staff and captains without fining the daylights out of their residents? or will they continue to run a 7 to 8 million deficit?

    From Day one (top of article) I have stated that the government is too large and bloated for a city that size. You seem to be stuck on if they just reduced their police force to your known lower levels of 17/10k then they would be dancing in the streets, a new cell phone for everyone and nobody would have to cut their own grass. 1) I don't believe the 17/10k number is close. I think using a national average, for a place that has double the national average of property crime, is not intelligent by that fact alone. 2) even presuming you are correct, and just dropping a few cops off the payroll will not allow them to stop collection on their 2nd highest revenue source. Which still has nothing to do with the fact that if they want to back door tax the heck out of their own residents, they should do it in a manner that is not racially based. So I don't see your point at all if you have one except to argue that you think that their below average sized police force for the state of Missouri is too big and that's why they need so much money.

    Maybe it's to fund firefighters. How do they afford those 27 full time firefighters? do you have a national average for that?

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "From Day one (top of article) I have stated that the government is too
    large and bloated for a city that size. You seem to be stuck on if they
    just reduced their police force to your known lower levels of 17/10k
    then they would be dancing in the streets, a new cell phone for everyone
    and nobody would have to cut their own grass."

    I have never claimed that they could eliminate their entire budget deficit out of reducing the size of their PD. What I did claim, and I feel that I have supported that claim fairly well, is that the size of the PD could be reduced and the penny ante fines without increasing the budget deficit.

    "You still hang your hat on "knowing" that 17/10k is 100% awesome sauce.
    Since you are right and "know" that 17 officers is the absolute limit
    any city should ever need per 10k residents, regardless of socioeconomic
    status and urban density"

    I have never claimed anything of the sort. However, you continue to fail to make any case that 17/10K would be inadequate for Ferguson.

    Also, high population density is likely to lead to fewer officers per capita being needed because there is less physical area that normal patrols need to cover.

    "at best using the 100k per officer average cost, they save one million?"

    No, they save $1.7 million which is more than 60% of the current fine revenue.

    " I think using a national average, for a place that has double the national average of property crime"

    Do you have a cite to support that contention?

    As to the fines supporting other departments, since the fine revenue is less than the PD budget, that is rather unlikely.

  • Joe

    You read BS like this and you might be able to see what happened. Everybody has a breaking point. A kid gets harassed by police for years is being harassed once again for jaywalking. The kid snaps and acts in a manner that the police officer views as menacing. A police officer feeling legitimately threatened opens fire. While this doesn't justify such behavior (if such a scenario did occur), it is understandable.

  • HCE

    city-data.com was the source on crime rates, mentioned earlier for the violent cirme (being just slightly higher than national per captia averages) and property crime (being almost double the national average). A denser urban area with lower incomes and presumably high unemployment (their own intro to their budget highlights the challenges that the residents of Ferguson face) does not typically require less police since a beat cop can walk a smaller area. It requires more. Often they have to ride tandem to ensure that they are not over matched when making stops that potentially could turn violent. But we know that never happens in Ferguson. A simple stop and frisk (no matter that I don't like them on a legal or moral basis) turns into a large boy grabbing your gun in a fight then charging at you.

    Your asking me to prove 17/10k doesn't work, and I ask you to prove that it does. Neither one of us can without logs and data from FERGUSON. You are sure that you are right and all the victims of police brutality in Ferguson will cheer the day when there is one cop walking the streets, there only to help the occasional old lady cross the road. I am sure that less cops in Ferguson, enough less cops to make a dent in their budget, would probably lead to inadequate protection from all the CRIMINALS that live in Ferguson. They support your stance. I'll just have to agree to disagree.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "A denser urban area with lower incomes and presumably high unemployment
    (their own intro to their budget highlights the challenges that the
    residents of Ferguson face) does not typically require less police since
    a beat cop can walk a smaller area. It requires more."

    True in terms of the raw number of cops, but not true when you are looking at the number of officer's needed on a per-capita basis.

    The number of officers it takes to patrol a given area will be roughly proportional to the spatial area that they have to cover. For this reason, cops required per capita for patrol will be inversely proportional to population density. (Yes, high crime rates could require doubling up for safety reasons, but that is a separate issue).

    If you look at two cities with the same total population and crime rates, but different population densities, it will require more cops on a per-capita basis to patrol the lower population density city.

    "A simple stop and frisk (no matter that I don't like them on a legal or
    moral basis) turns into a large boy grabbing your gun in a fight then
    charging at you."

    And you can't know with certainty that this is what happened in Ferguson. You are simply taking what the PD is saying as gospel. Cops never use excessive force and never harass citizens just because they can (not).

    "Your asking me to prove 17/10k doesn't work, and I ask you to prove that
    it does. Neither one of us can without logs and data from FERGUSON."

    Here is something for you to consider. I don't see anything at the city-data.com site info on Ferguson that breaks out the national averages for violent vs property crimes. However, it lists the national average for the total at 297.5 and the total for Ferguson for 2012 at 381.1 Which means that the total crime rate in Ferguson is 128.1% of the national average. However, the cops per capita is 17/10K for the national average and 25/10K for Ferguson which makes the Ferguson PD 147.5% larger than the national average on a per capita basis.

  • HCE

    click on the "crime rate in Ferguson detailed stats..." link and you get a 480 to 266 property crime rate ratio for Ferguson to the national rate.

    You're using math. Geometry and statistics. The logic that a denser population needs less cops is true in Sim City. the problem is the economic breakdown of that density. while rural communities in Kentucky portrayed in Justified may look like a disproportionate amount of hill billy drug dealing, pimping, hugging, culture, typically cities with 50k population that have mainly 1 acre home plots don't have the same crime rates as a lower income tenement type area with 5000 plus per square mile. Ferguson is probably somewhere in between that on a geography/social view alone.

    Great Schools.org lists the only high school as a 1 and the middle and Elementary schools as 1 or 2 out of 10. One Elementary school got a 5, it's the shining beacon of hope in that town. You simply do not live in a good area with schools that bad. Not to say they need more cops, but they likely have a high rate of kids that are not studying to be a rocket scientist and are more likely to steal a box of cigarillos.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    " The logic that a denser population needs less cops is true in Sim
    City. the problem is the economic breakdown of that density."

    1. You are missing the point, it's not that a denser population needs fewer cops, it needs fewer cops per capita, there is a significant difference between the two.

    2. A lot of rural communities are as poor if not poorer than urban ghettos. Few people have ever gotten rich farming.

    "typically cities with 50k population that have mainly 1 acre home plots
    don't have the same crime rates as a lower income tenement type area
    with 5000 plus per square mile. Ferguson is probably somewhere in
    between that on a geography/social view alone."

    What you should be looking at for comparison against Ferguson is not a suburban community with 1 acre home plots and a 50k pop, but a true rural community with a 21K pop for the entire county in a 100+ square mile area.

  • hce

    haven't checked back in a while. Are we arguing that ferguson needs less cops? And how many less? Will that result in the local government being able to meet it's needs to provide an adequate amount of protection from crime and other police duties? Will any reduction you feel is warranted result in the city being able to meet its financial needs? less cops = budget is perfect? that's the original argument/disagreement. I don't think that laying off a few cops will help the budget issues nor is it safe to say from our computers probably 1000's of miles away that less cops would be a safe idea either. Throwing out there that 17/10k is absolute and therefore Ferguson can 100% lay off 10 cops or so, meet all it's police needs, and magically that reduction would offset the revenue the cops make in their BS stops is not supported by any facts (so far). you can't show me how FERGUSON can go by a national average. 2010 CDC says over 35% of Americans are fat. One of the three of us has to be fat, right? That's not a true statement, but if you think so, I can attest that I am not the fat one.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "less cops = budget is perfect? that's the original argument/disagreement."

    No, I never claimed less cops = perfect budget? This was only ever the disagreement in your head. My claim was always that a slimmer PD would offset most if not all of any reduction in the fine revenue, making it close to budget neutral.

    "Throwing out there that 17/10k is absolute and therefore Ferguson can
    "

    I never claimed that the 17/10k was absolute.

    "100% lay off 10 cops or so, meet all it's police needs, and magically
    that reduction would offset the revenue the cops make in their BS stops is not supported by any facts (so far)"

    Yes it is. I showed clearly how based on average spend per officer, a reduction in the size of their PD to the national average on a per-capita basis would reduce the pd budget by more than 60% of the fine revenue, and the fine revenue isn't going to drop to zero.

    "you can't show me how FERGUSON can go by a national average."

    Perhaps not, but with a crime rate at only 128% of the national average i still think the case is solid that a PD at 150% of the national average per capita is over sized for their needs and you have done nothing to show otherwise.

    "2010 CDC says over 35% of Americans are fat. One of the three of us has
    to be fat, right? That's not a true statement, but if you think so, I
    can attest that I am not the fat one."

    Your logic is flawed and it is a true statement. I am the fat one. :-P