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Ben Swann: The Problem of Policing for Profit in Out-of-Touch Municipalities

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Rachel Blevins
Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

On Monday, Investigative Journalist Ben Swann joined Jerry Doyle on the Jerry Doyle Show to discuss the current events in Ferguson, Missouri, as the country prepared to hear the verdict of whether or not Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted for shooting and killing Michael Brown.

They began by discussing the Grand Jury, and the fact that this case was different than most. Swann explained that in this case, the prosecuting attorney was not only presenting the evidence that might have led to Wilson being indicted, but he was also presenting the defense.

He’s actually arguing both sides,” said Swann. “He’s arguing defense for the officer, and he’s questioning whether or not there is evidence. That would never happen with you or I, and I think that’s part of the problem with this particular situation.”

Swann said that in this case, the most appropriate thing to do would have been for “the St. Louis County prosecutor to recuse himself, and bring in a separate prosecutor,” which did not happen.

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When visiting Ferguson two weeks ago, Swann found that the people were not able to identify with the police officers in their community, due to the fact that the majority of the officers do not live in Ferguson.

While most of the media is focused on the results of the Grand Jury’s verdict, Swann pointed out that they are not talking about the issues that have led up to this point.

There is a single incident, yes, but that single incident does not stand alone,” said Swann. “It’s woven into the fabric of all of the issues surrounding this.”

Swann explained that as people are watching coverage of the events in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, they will see the media highlight the events as those where it is “black vs. white,” when in reality, it is an issue of a “municipality that does not respect its people.”

Police officers are not trained to see people as their employers,” said Swann. “They are trained to see citizens as a way of deriving revenue.”

Swann said that one major issue plaguing Ferguson was not the way people were reacting, as much as it was the police’s response to the people’s reaction.

What blew Ferguson up the last time was not the protests, it was how police responded to the protests,” said Swann, who went on to explain that while there were “legitimate criminal acts” occurring that required a response from police, the police weren’t using tanks, tear gas, and rubber bullets to combat the rioters and looters, they were using them against the protestors.

Another issue Swann found evident, not only in this case, but also in communities across the country, was the issue of “policing for profit.”

“Ferguson is an especially egregious community when it comes to officers who write citations,” said Swann, who explained policing for profit as a “form of fining people with tickets for as many infractions as possible.”

As a result, the city of Ferguson profited $3.2 million from traffic fines in the year 2013.

Due to the growing epidemic of policing for profit, Swann said that the community of Ferguson does not feel like the police force is there “to serve or to protect,” as much are they are there “to derive revenue from people.”

It’s not a black vs. white issue. It’s a citizen vs. municipality issue.”

 

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