Ferguson, US reach tentative police reform deal with Justice Department

By Staff Writer | Jan 28, 2016 08:55 AM EST

The Ferguson Police Department has agreed to overhaul its system, including its policies, training, and practices. The city and federal officials also announced on Wednesday that this will be a part of the reform deal with the Justice Department following the 2014 police fatal shooting of the 18-year old Michael Brown.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the recommendations to overhaul the system of Ferguson follows after seven months of negotiations and probably avoids a civil rights lawsuit that the federal officials have the decision to bring against the departments that resist changing their policing practices.

The recommendations are meant to correct problems identified in a contemptuous Justice Department report last year. It identified unconstitutional and discriminatory practices across the city police force and the municipal court system.

The city officials also posted the proposed 131-page deal between the federal government and the Ferguson Police Department on the city's website. They also displayed the scheduled three public sessions over the next two weeks for input from the residents.

With that, the agreement envisions a top-to-bottom revamping of the basic policing practices as the Justice Department, which calls for the system changes in how the officers conduct stops, searches and arrests, use their firearms, as well as how they respond to the demonstrations.

The Big Story noted that among the highlights of the deal is a requirement for the patrol officers, supervisors, and jail workers to be equipped with body-worn cameras and microphones. This will take effect within 180 days of the agreement. The cameras are said to be promoting accountability and are to be activated for all traffic stops, arrests, searches and encounters with people believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis.

Since 2014, the city had been under federal scrutiny for the shooting of Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, by a white police officer Darren Wilson, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The killing led to protests and promoted a wave of national scrutiny about police use of force and law enforcement's interactions with minorities.

And although Wilson was cleared in the shooting, a federal investigation into the Ferguson police force found sweeping patterns of racial bias throughout the city's criminal justice system. A Justice Department report in March even proved that officers routinely used too much force, gave petty citations and made baseless traffic stops in the city of about 21,000 residents.

In fact,  around two-thirds of whom are black. It also criticized the police officers, which were almost all white, and the court system for preferring heavily on fines for petty municipal violations as a source of revenue for the city government.

For now, the recommendations were all posted on the city's website. The city officials posted the tentative deal and scheduled three public sessions for input from residents. A City Council vote is also set for a schedule on February 9.

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