Police Research Group Shocked at Findings

According to The Huffington Post, Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said his organization has “never before encountered” the types of profit-driven policing practices it found in parts of St. Louis County,

“Our organization found a situation that, in many ways, is dysfunctional and unsustainable,” Wexler said in a statement yesterday along with the release of the 79-page report. The organization has worked with more than 300 police departments across the country.

The PERF report found that an “inappropriate and misguided mission has been thrust upon the police in many communities: the need to generate large sums of revenue for their city governments.”

“This is not the way that policing is done in the United States. PERF has never before encountered what we have seen in parts of St. Louis County. The role of police is to protect the public and to work with local communities to solve problems of crime and disorder — not to harass residents with absurd systems of fines and penalties, mostly for extremely minor offenses,” the report stated.

“The crisis in many St. Louis County departments is driven by the need to generate more and more revenue to fund the patchwork of dozens of local governments that exist in the county,” the report continued. “Especially in small, impoverished municipalities where traditional sources of revenue such as taxes have stagnated or declined, police departments are being pushed into the role of revenue generators for their cities and towns. They are being diverted away from their traditional roles of community guardians and protectors.”

The report tracks closely with the findings of the Justice Department’s investigation into the practices of the police department and municipal court in Ferguson, Missouri. Advocates and law enforcement leaders in St. Louis County have long pointed out that the practices weren’t unique to Ferguson.

PERF’s study was conducted at the request of Better Together St. Louis, an organization looking at fragmentation in the St. Louis region.