DOJ investigation into Ferguson could have wide-ranging impact

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KMOV.com

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 4 at 5:58 PM

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The Department of Justice has two separate investigations involving the Ferguson Police Department.

The first focuses on the deadly police shooting of Michael Brown.  The second, announced Thursday, will examine possible civil rights violations, including those that may involve racial profiling and arrests. The investigation of the Ferguson Police Department is only part of the Department of Justice’s push for policing reform in St. Louis County.

Following what many critics described as heavy-handed military style policing, the Justice Department also reached an agreement with St. Louis County police to perform a comprehensive assessment of the department.
 
It's an unusual broad step by the Department of Justice that could potentially impact every department in the county, since county police train many of those officers.
 
After repeated scandals, federal agents brought intensive training to the East St. Louis Police Department in an attempt to rebuild their credibility in the community. That followed a series of high profile prosecutions of cops, a police chief and other government officials accused of poisoning law enforcement with their crimes.
 
The US. Attorney's Office was also instrumental in building a nine person Armed Security Unit for HUD properties in East St. Louis, which included some of the most dangerous government housing in the country.
 
Many critics, however, say feds haven't been aggressive enough and move too slowly. Critics point to Trayvon Martin, who was killed more than two years ago, but today Attorney General Holder said the Department of Justice still hasn't finished its investigation into his death.
 
According to information provided by police, in Ferguson, blacks are twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police and arrested, even though police were less likely to find illegal contraband on blacks.
 
University of Missouri - St. Louis criminologist Rick Rosenfeld says local police departments don't have to wait for recommendations from the Department of Justice. They can get better training and become more diverse now.

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