Nine months after the Justice Department released a damning report detailing the racial biased practices of the Ferguson Police Department, the Missouri city and DOJ officials are nearing a reform deal that will likely effect change and overhaul what has been called “unconstitutional” policing.
The report, released earlier this year, was prompted by the death of Michael Brown — a Black Ferguson teenager who was fatally shot by former police officer Darren Wilson. Last November, a grand jury elected not to indict Wilson on criminal charges.
Completing the deal, however, will require support from diverse factions of Ferguson’s leadership, which will have to sell residents on the idea of a federal policing monitor and of huge new expenses for a city that is already struggling financially. Some officials said a local tax increase appears unavoidable, which in Missouri requires approval from voters.
The two sides have been negotiating for several months, after a scathing Justice Department report in March described Ferguson as a city where police officers often stop and arrest people without cause, where the court operates as a moneymaking venture, and where officers used excessive force almost exclusively against blacks.
The deal’s anticipated close was confirmed by Mayor James Knowles III, who, in a telephone interview, told the Times the city has made “tremendous progress.”
“We’re at a point where we have addressed any necessary issues, and assuming it is not cost prohibitive, we would like to move forward,” Mr. Knowles said.
“The talks with the city of Ferguson to develop a monitored consent decree have been productive,” Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said in a statement. “The department believes that in order to remedy the Justice Department’s findings, an agreement needs to be reached without delay.”
The agreement would allow the city to avoid a lawsuit from the Justice Department.
SOURCE: NYT | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty