Ferguson, feds reach tentative police reform deal
ST. LOUIS — The Justice Department has reached a tentative agreement with Ferguson, Missouri, on systemic changes following the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014.
City officials announced the proposed deal between the federal government and the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday afternoon. A City Council vote is scheduled for Feb. 9, after three public hearings are held for residents to offer their input.
The recommended overhaul follows seven months of negotiations. It likely averts a civil rights lawsuit that federal officials have the option to bring against departments that resist changing their policing practices.
Under the agreement, within 180 days, all patrol officers, supervisors and jail workers will be required to wear body cameras and microphones, and the equipment will be installed inside the Police Department’s squad cars. The cameras are to be activated for all traffic stops, arrests, searches and encounters with people believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis.
The city also agreed to repeal sections of the city’s law book that authorized jail for people who fail to pay fines for violations.
The plan calls for more thorough training of police officers and changes to the city’s use of force procedures. Such deals also generally require the appointment of a monitor to oversee a police department’s compliance.
A federal investigation into the Ferguson police force found sweeping patterns of racial bias across the city’s criminal justice system. A Justice Department report issued in March found that officers routinely used excessive force, issued petty citations and made baseless traffic stops.
A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the death of Brown, who was black.