Timothy Zoll, the spokesman for the Ferguson police department who characterized a makeshift memorial to Michael Brown as a “pile of trash in the middle of the street,” has been placed on unpaid leave. As I discussed here, when the Washington Post contacted Zoll after a motorist ran over the Brown “memorial,” Zoll responded (in part) by saying “a pile of trash in the middle of the street; the Washington Post is making a call over this?”
Zoll, an 11 year veteran of the police force, initially denied making the statement in question, according to a statement by the department. He must now await disciplinary proceedings.
I sympathize with Zoll. However, it seems clear that, in this hyper-sensitive age, he’s not cut out to be a police spokesperson. A different job in the department would suit him better.
In an era when a thug who attacks a police officer after robbing a store can become a martyr, a collection of bric-a-brac deposited in the street can be his memorial. And a police spokesperson who ridicules the idea can find his career in severe jeopardy.
I hope that whatever action the Ferguson police department takes in this case won’t be influenced by a desire to appease the pro-Michael Brown mob. Unfortunately, it seems clear from the department’s statement — with its talk of “creating a trusting relationship with the entire community and taking impactful steps to improve the effectiveness of the department” — that appeasement will be a major consideration.
In this hyper-sensitive age, it usually is.