Things in Ferguson are what they are because of uncertainty — at least in part. The events leading up to Michael Brown’s shooting by a local police officer are still officially unknown; the accounts are conflicting; the reactions on the street mixed and angry. Racial tensions have erupted around the issue, and police response has been militarized and heavily criticized both in America and internationally.
It has resulted in the admission from President Barack Obama that law enforcement equipment could probably benefit from an evaluation. He said it is “probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone — how local law enforcement has used grant dollars, to make sure that what they’re purchasing is stuff that they actually need.” Continuing, he said what some would classify as wishful thinking, “there is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement,” adding that “we don’t want those lines blurred.”
But blurred lines seems to be the theme in Fergusson, Missouri at the moment, and conduct on both the part of law enforcement and angry civilians has been less than perfect. So for the sake of simplicity, it seems worthwhile to look at the numbers for a more quantitative examination of issues blowing up in St. Louis.