In Dellwood, a “citizens academy” was started for residents. They graduate, receive certificates and shirts and then can volunteer at events to essentially help keep the peace. It “brings the community closer to the police department,” according to [Mayor] Jones.
The police chief in Dellwood has also apparently issued an order to have each officer meet one new person each week and file a report on who they met. This is “another way to ensure the officer is talking to people” and “getting to know residents.”
If you know the people, you are policing then you don’t have as much fear of what those people are going to do. Fear seems to have been a huge contributing factor to the arrests and police violence that have unfolded in the past weeks. So, Jones said that the city makes an attempt to make sure the relationship between the community and police is not a “me against you” relationship.
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The city of Ferguson has red light cameras that were installed in August 2011.
“We don’t do those kind of things, which frustrate residents,” Jones asserted. “Those kind of things create a bad relationship between government and residents when you have all these kind of things you are constantly using—and for revenue purposes—but seventy percent of the time you’re frustrating people.”
“I believe in good old-fashioned policing. Pull you over with a radar, and write you a ticket,” Jones added. “True, we can put a camera up and boost revenue, but I just don’t think that’s necessary because, again, you create that bad relationship with your residents and your police or even your government when you start doing that.”
Jones has been the mayor since April 2013. He ran based on a vision of uniting the city because there had been a “big political fight” that had divided it. He put forward a platform that included listening to more voices in the community and, according to him, city council meetings now have “great attendance” with people coming out to see how government is operating and what is going on.
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Like many who have observed and been involved in what was happening, Jones contended that what Ferguson residents need to learn is to vote in their city’s elections. The city is nearly 70% African-American and there is only one black on the city council. There are only three black police officers. Yet, in the last election, voter turnout was 12%.