Police reform discussed at MU Ferguson symposium
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri School of Law hosted a Ferguson symposium Friday that discussed, among other things, policing and the justice system and how it responded to the shooting of Michael Brown.
One panel, "Policing: Policies from Profiling to Militarization," featured panelists who discussed personal experiences with with police and the justice system and how they feel the two need to be reformed.
One panelist, Redditt Hudson, is a former St. Louis police officer who now works for the NAACP. He said law enforcement has to be involved in reform and officers have to stand up to colleagues who commit wrongdoings.
"One of the most important groups that has to be involved in that has to be law enforcement itself, and by extension, the legal community," said Hudson.
Hudson criticized St. Louis-area law enforcement and prosecutor Bob McCulloch for how each handled the Brown case.
"I'm appalled by all those law enforcement people, said Hudson. "I'm appalled by St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, when he presented to the grand jury and allowed Darren Wilson to put his case on, in effect, in front of the grand jury."
The panelists discussed possible solutions for police reform, including reforming police culture, ending grand jury systems, appointing special prosecutors and implementing body cameras.
University of Chicago law professor Randolph Stone said changing police culture is more important than simply changing demographics.
"We know from experience, black police officers can be just as brutal and violent as white police officers, if that's the kind of culture that they are employed in," said Stone.
Stone also said body cameras are "not a panacea" but are helpful to reform.
Other panelists included Penny Marshall, a federal public defender in Delaware and Marc Mauer, the executive director of The Sentencing Project. No current law enforcement officers were on the panel.
Other panels included "Perceptions: Contextualizing the Events" and "Ferguson as a Window on Race and the Justice System."
The event was sponsored by the Missouri Law Review, a journal published by MU law students.