Ferguson retains police, court control in agreement with DOJ - KMOV.com

Ferguson retains police, court control in agreement with DOJ

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    Ferguson residents are getting their say on a settlement city leaders negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice that calls for sweeping changes to police practices in the St. Louis suburb where 18-year-old...

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    Ferguson residents are getting their say on a settlement city leaders negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice that calls for sweeping changes to police practices in the St. Louis suburb where 18-year-old Michael...

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FERGUSON, Mo (KMOV.com) -- The City of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice, after months of negotiation, have reached an agreement where the city will maintain control of its police force and municipal courts. 

In a release from the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, the proposed agreement will, “ensure that the City’s stated commitment to refocusing police and municipal court practices on public safety, rather than revenue generation, takes root and will not be undone.”

The two parties have been negotiating for seven months over a plan to ensure police and court reform in Ferguson, following the DOJ's investigation into the the city's governance. The DOJ began the investigation following the massive protests in the city after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer and the militarized police response to the protesters. 

The investigation revealed the priorities of city officials appeared to be maximizing revenue flows rather than operating in the public's best interests, even going so far as to urge police to hand out more tickets and maximize the number of tickets issued during a traffic stop.

The proposed agreement between the city and the DOJ, released on the city’s website, gives a broad view of the changes and requirements the two parties agreed on:


-Create a community engagement strategy that requires meaningful engagement between Ferguson police officers and all segments of the Ferguson community, with a focus on engagement with groups and individuals throughout Ferguson that have not had strong or positive relationships with the Ferguson Police Department (“FPD”) or the City, including the City’s youth and apartment tenants;  

-Establish long-term programs that promote and foster positive police-youth interactions, to rebuild trust between those two groups;  

-Require revisions to the City’s municipal code to ensure it comports with the Constitution and is not used in a manner that harms Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents;  

-Ensure that officers are provided the training, supervision, and support they need to police effectively, lawfully, ethically, and safely;  

-Require implicit bias-awareness training of all court staff and FPD personnel, including supervisors and unsworn officers;  

-Ensure that FPD’s stop, search, and arrest practices adhere to the Fourth Amendment and do not discriminate on the basis of race or other protected characteristics;  

-Protect all individuals’ First Amendment rights, including their right to record public police activity and engage in lawful protest;  

-Reorient Ferguson’s use-of-force policies toward de-escalation and avoiding force— particularly deadly force—except where necessary, consistent with a full recognition of the sanctity of life;   -Recognize that policing is a difficult, high-stress occupation, and ensure that officers and their families have the support services they need;  

-Facilitate recruitment and retention of a diverse work force consisting of the highest quality officers;  

-Require FPD to implement a robust accountability system that takes misconduct complaints seriously and holds its officers to high standards;  

-Require FPD to collect the data on its own operations needed for it to continue to learn and improve upon its police and court practices;  

-Ensure that the City’s municipal court respects individuals’ due process and equal protection rights, by eliminating unlawful practices concerning the imposition and enforcement of fines and fees; and  

-Require the selection of an independent monitor who not only will review and report publicly on the City’s implementation of the Agreement, but will also provide assistance to the City on how to do so effectively.  


The agreement leaves the City of Ferguson in control of its police department and municipal court. In a release from the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, the proposal will, “ensure that the City’s stated commitment to refocusing police and municipal court practices on public safety, rather than revenue generation, takes root and will not be undone.”

Adolphus Pruitt, President of the St. Louis NAACP said he applauds the police training requirements and hopes it will change how officers use force and how they interact with citizens.

Public comments will be accepted any time prior to February 9. If submitted in writing, they can be sent to the City Clerk at City Hall.

The Ferguson City Council will accept public comments in person on Tuesday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall, Saturday, February 6 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ferguson Community Center and Tuesday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

Those who have questions are urged to submit questions in writing in advance as priority will be given to those questions.

Click here to read the full letter.

An organization that believes there are too many municipal governments told News 4 the changes that have to implemented in the agreement will cost Ferguson a lot of money.

"The overarching message is this will cost taxpayers money," said David Leipholtz with Better Together. "It's really a commitment on behalf of a government if you enter into one of these consent decrees, you're not only going to follow through, but you're going to pay for it as well."

If the city elects not to implement the agreement, it could be sued by the DOJ, something that could also be very costly. 

"For some reason we tend to try to put a dollar amount on what is necessary to provide constitutional protection that people deserve," Pruitt said.

It is unknown if the agreement will bankrupt the city, which is currently facing a deficit around $3 million.

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