If anyone needed a reminder that police officers risk their lives every day, they got it in Ferguson, Mo. early Thursday. Two police officers standing in front of the police station were shot, one in the face and one in the shoulder. Fortunately the injuries are not life-threatening, although one of the officers now has a bullet lodged behind his ear.
The officers were there to ensure that ongoing protests remained peaceful. Clearly, it’s not always easy to identify who’s acting peacefully, and who intends to do an officer harm.
Maybe these shootings will give pause to the people still critical of former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Police officers have to make split-second decisions about whether to use force when they feel threatened by suspects who resist arrest as Brown did. The officers’ lives can depend upon the decisions they make.
The shootings Thursday should also remind people that violence against police officers will only worsen relationships between the police and citizens, in Ferguson and anywhere else. The police must be respected, just as citizens expect to be treated with respect by the police.
Ferguson’s leaders seem committed to change as evidenced by the departure of the city manager, police chief and a municipal court judge. Further violence could be a quick way to undercut the positive steps forward.