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Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes

'For-profit policing' and how it contributed to Ferguson nightmare

Nikki Jones, of Spanish Lake, Mo, holds a button Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in support of Michael Brown while visiting the community in the apartment development near where he was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Curtis Compton)

Much has been made about the divide between law enforcement and citizens recently in the wake of Ferguson, Missouri. I think it's understandable that many of us have difficulty making sense of the violent reaction to police and the deep-seated mistrust in some communities.

Research from a nonprofit group of public defenders in Missouri may shed some light on one of the factors -- money.

It's referred to as "for-profit policing" and the numbers are staggering. Imagine you lived in a community where the AVERAGE is 1.5 cases and three warrants per household. Fines and court fees for the year in this city of just 21,000 people totaled $2,635,400.

This might drastically change the way you view a police officer in your neighborhood. Are they there to protect and serve or is this just another way to generate revenue for the city?

It's one thing to set up speed traps, it's another thing entirely to target poor people with monetary fines they can't pay, and then throw them in jail for failure to pay. Then fine them again.

The end result is a person with a criminal record, jail time and an unpaid debt to the city. This directly impacts his or her ability to find and keep a job, which in many cases starts the cycle all over again.

And you wonder why some communities see police as the problem, not the answer.

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About the Author


I may not be a native, but I've been in Arizona long enough to forget what it's like back East. I moved to Tucson in the 5th grade where I graduated high school and attended the UofA. The radio bug hit me early and I was a DJ at the age of 17 in Tucson. Besides being on-air at times, my main career focus has been the behind-the-scenes programming of radio stations. I have an extensive background in music radio, in addition to working at and/or running some of the biggest and most influential radio stations in America. My radio career took me to Los Angeles, San Diego and then back to Phoenix. The chance to be back on-air, and to do it at 92.3 KTAR, was too good to pass upů so here we are! Weekends are usually reserved for racing as I own and drive my own dirt track Sprint Car all over the country. I am unmarried (never have been), childless (that I'm aware of) and don't even have any pets at this point. I do own 1 plant but the fact it has survived this long without watering leads me to believe it may be plastic. I love what I do and enjoy hosting a talk radio show for people who don't like "talk radio".

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