(KMOV.com) The News 4 Investigates documentary, “The Injustice System: Cops, Courts and Greedy Politicians,” is the result of an ongoing investigation that began following the deadly police shooting of Mike Brown in August, 2014. Our investigation has repeatedly exposed the heavy-handed approach of some police departments and municipal courts that have been pushed into the role as a primary driver of revenue for many cities in our region, especially some of the municipalities in St. Louis County.
Although I have investigated government corruption and police misconduct in our region for more than a decade, the events that erupted in Ferguson, and the issues that were exposed in greater detail, prompted a much deeper look at the use of law enforcement as a “profit center,” as it has been described by some critics.
Since we began our investigation, News 4 has focused heavily on the practices of some police departments, including Ferguson, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Country Club Hills, St. Ann, Pine Lawn and Bel-Ridge, all north St. Louis County municipalities that have aggressively enforced traffic laws, and in some cases issued massive amounts of tickets. In Bellefontaine Neighbors, retired police Cpl. Joe St. Clair showed News 4 documented proof of a quota system used by the department. As a result of our investigation, the department ended the practice that was called “unethical” by retired St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch. Our investigation has also exposed allegations of systemic racism in some police departments.
But the serious issues documented in our investigation aren't exclusive to North County. Former Ladue Police Chief Larry White insists he was told to target black motorists. Ladue is one of the wealthiest suburbs of St. Louis and has a black population of less than one percent. City officials have denied White's claims. While he was chief, Ladue police pulled over 30 percent fewer blacks. He was fired after two years on the job.
Our first segment focuses on the role of police as revenue producers because they are on the front lines of the effort.