Fayetteville State University professor has been studying situation in Ferguson

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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For the past 24 hours, Fayetteville State Professor Michael DeValve has been glued to social media.

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- For the past 24 hours, Fayetteville State Professor Michael DeValve has been glued to social media. A professor of criminology who's been to Ferguson twice in the past two months, DeValve said he is worried about colleagues there now.

"I have friends who are police officers," said DeValve, "and I have friends who are protesters and both those groups are worried for their safety."

DeValve is working with a collective of criminologists around the country studying Ferguson and trying to figure out what went wrong. There is widespread agreement that the criminal justice system is broken (in Missouri and, in the opinion of many, around the country) and DeValve's group is trying to figure out how to fix it.

"This is not only about stand-up racism," DeValve said. "I wish it were that simple. It's not. It's much more insidious. It's pervasive."

Among the problems in Ferguson: the trust gap between police and the people they serve.

"There has been a problem with police legitimacy for a long time," said DeValve.

That's something some communities in the Triangle may have in common with Ferguson, but DeValve warns against drawing too many parallels.

"Is there overt racism here? Yeah," he said. "Is that part of the problem to the same degree? It's different. It's going to have a different landscape."

DeValve said the biggest need right now in Ferguson is public forgiveness.

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