Ferguson’s ‘Debtors Prison’ Racket Has Been Reined In. Now Its Police Force May Be Falling Apart.
ST. LOUIS ― The head of Ferguson’s police dispatch tendered her resignation in a turbulent city council meeting this week, telling city officials that budgeting and staffing constraints have made it impossible to do her job.
Shannon Dandridge, who worked for dispatch for 13 years, cried as she read from a letter she had submitted at the time of her Aug. 10 departure. She said that her office is understaffed and undertrained. Dispatchers aren’t getting breaks, which is leading to fatigue and creating a potentially dangerous situation, she added.
“Mistakes are going to happen, someone is going to get hurt, whether a citizen or officer,” she said. “I don’t feel at this point we can properly staff the dispatch center to keep the community and officers safe. Something needs to be done immediately. After over 26 years working in law enforcement I’ve never seen such a disconnect between a city and its police department.”
Dandridge said budget cuts have decimated staff, reducing her office from seven full-time dispatchers and 10 part-time dispatchers to five full-time dispatchers and an “unlimited” amount of part-timers ― who need training and don’t have the benefits of a full position.
Ferguson employees say what’s happening in the dispatch office is indicative of budget and hiring problems across the police force. Shortly after the August 2014 police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation into the Ferguson police that exposed numerous faults, including that it targeted residents ―