On Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Findings by the U.S. Department of Justice would later show that police and officials in Ferguson had subjected the African American community to harassment and discrimination in their policies.
Citizens who had seen Michael Brown’s body lying in the street for four hours soon began to stage a massive protest over the killing. The protesters filled the streets of Ferguson and soon so did militarized police and tear gas. After them were the news vans and all of America.
Race relations and police relations were brought to the collective attention of the nation and have since been one of the biggest topics on the mind of the American public. Ferguson became the rallying point for police reform and improvement of race relations, but what has changed since Ferguson?
The U.S. government does not keep statistics on Americans shot by the police, but after the events in Missouri, news organizations and other outside groups have tried to keep track of the numbers.
According to the Washington Post, the number of fatal police shootings has been steadily increasing since 2014. In the first six months of 2015, the paper recorded 465 deaths. In the same period in 2016 it was 491.
African-American suspects were shot 2.5 times more than white suspects, around 10 percent of all suspects were unarmed when they were shot and killed (most of the unarmed were African-Americans), and nearly 25 percent of those cases was related to mental illness.
Some reforms have started to take place in policing since the events in Ferguson.
For one, more police departments are now using personal body cameras to monitor interactions with the public. According to CNN, that figure is up from 25 percent to around 33 percent, with 95 percent of police precincts reporting that they are planning on implementing the technology in the near future.
A change, partly linked to increased video footage, is the prosecution of police officers who wrongly commit these shootings. Murder and manslaughter charges have tripled for officers in the past two years, but convictions remain rare. Some precincts have implemented new training on bias, mental illness and de-escalation tactics.
While some reform has taken place since the events in Ferguson, Missouri, the American public is still making calls for greater police scrutiny and further reform to the criminal justice community.
With the current rate of officer-involved shootings that disproportionally targets African-Americans, it is apparent that more law enforcement reform is necessary.