After a week and a half of tense confrontations, arrests and recriminations in protests over the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, officials in Ferguson, Missouri, promised Wednesday to explore sweeping changes in the city's law enforcement structure — including the possibility of putting cameras on all officers' vests. "We plan to learn from this tragedy," city leaders said in a memo lamenting the "discord and heartbreak" that have visited the community since Brown, 18, was shot to death Aug. 9.
The statement, which was unsigned but was attributed to "our mayor, members of the City Council and city employees," said the city was exploring short- and long-term responses to "the concerns raised as a result of this devastating series of events." Most immediately, they asked residents to stay home at night to "allow peace to settle in, and allow for the justice process to take its course." But they also said they were reviewing wide-ranging changes in police operations, including the use of cameras in police cars and attached to officers' vests, working to boost the number of African Americans applying to the police academy, and requiring officers to live in the city of Ferguson.
Critics of the police say that had officers been wearing cameras, much more would be known about both the shooting of Brown and about interactions between police and protesters afterward. An online petition urging the Obama administration to work for a "Mike Brown Law" requiring all state and local police departments to use such cameras had reached more than 123,000 signatures by Tuesday evening.
— M. Alex Johnson
First published August 19 2014, 3:26 PM