Lessons from Ferguson

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

The GOP platform mentions nothing about the problems our police systems create. Erroneously, many Republicans are using the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson to ignore and justify the serious problems our police systems demonstrate and are advancing even more aggressive police power.

Considering the (a) voluminous number of criminal laws, (b) low standard of suspicion officers need to conduct an investigatory stop, (c) liability immunity officers enjoy in claims of misconduct, (d) manner in which the judicial system favors the government over citizen, and (e) fallacy many hold that officers automatically deserve more credibility than those prosecuted; the most “innocent” of us should be concerned.

Many are unaware perhaps that what happened in Ferguson can happen in Flathead County or in any rural America city. Truthfully, it does happen, only with less dramatic endings. The tension between citizen and officer is rising partly because officers and prosecutors increasingly adopt an “us-versus-them” perspective. Unfortunately, the poorer and less-wanted in society bear the brunt of what this creates. Sadly, most of the “upstanding” people don’t see it, so the problem is ignored and uncontrolled.

Every citizen should help fix a system that promotes police abuse instead of ignoring or justifying it. To me, this should be in the GOP platform.


By Joe Carbonari

To maintain safety and order we need law enforcement. In crowded neighborhoods, especially in economically hard times, we need more of them. If they are from outside our community, and they don’t seem to like us, we feel that it’s us versus them. It probably has ever been so. It’s human nature.

Police tend to be on the front lines of disorder, and their lives can be tense. The same is often true of the people that they are dealing with, tense lives, and heightened stress when confrontation takes place. There will be problems, and they must be minimized.

Further, we can’t have large segments of our population thinking that they are personally at risk for mistrust and mistreatment, due to race or place. When too many people feel that the deck, the system, is stacked against them, there will be disorder. It’s what we humans do. We demonstrate to send the message that change is required. Hopefully, we then act, constructively, to bring about that change.

Generally speaking, we need police that understand and are a part of the communities that they serve. Where that is lacking it must be addressed. It will not happen on its own. It must be demanded and directed, with respect.

Our police risk their lives for us. In a free society we are them and they are us. Let’s keep it so.

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