DOJ set to release review of St. Louis County police

Author: The Associated Press
Published: Updated:
MGN Online

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday will release the findings of its third and final review stemming from the unrest in Ferguson that followed the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services reviewed the St. Louis County police department at the request of Police Chief Jon Belmar. Belmar asked for the inquiry last year, saying he felt the COPS program could provide advice on issues such as use-of-force policy, training and helping officers to be free of bias.

Brown, who was black and unarmed, was killed Aug. 9, 2014, during a confrontation with white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, prompting months of unrest in the St. Louis suburb. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November.

Several St. Louis-area police agencies and the Missouri State Highway Patrol initially provided security in Ferguson during the protests last year. The patrol, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County handled those duties after the first few days that followed the shooting.

The first DOJ report, released in March, focused on Ferguson’s own government. It found bias in policing and a profit-driven municipal court system that made money largely at the expense of poor and minority residents of Ferguson and neighboring communities. City leaders and the Justice Department are still negotiating a final response.

The second report, released by the COPS office last month, said the police response to unrest and rioting offered lessons in how not to handle mass demonstrations. That report created a portrait of poor community-police relations, ineffective communication among the more than 50 law enforcement agencies that initially responded, police orders that infringed on First Amendment rights and military-style tactics that antagonized demonstrators.

The Ferguson shooting, along with other deaths of blacks at the hands of white police officers, sparked a national dialogue about police-community relations and the role of race in policing.

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