Friday, March 06, 2015

Ferguson Police Department Investigation Report

The U.S. Department of Justice released its Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department dated March 4, 2015. The following paragraph from the summary section of the report highlights issues of concern:
Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular.
The report ends with broad recommendations about changes Ferguson should make to its police and court practices and states that the Justice Department will "work with the City of Ferguson toward developing and reaching agreement on an appropriate framework for reform."