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Thread: Ferguson Police Department Faces Uncertain Future

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    Banned Jiggyfly's Avatar
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    Ferguson Police Department Faces Uncertain Future

    DOJ Report Vindicates Ferguson Protesters As Police Department Faces Uncertain Future
    Posted: 03/04/2015 10:38 pm EST Updated: 03/05/2015 8:59 am EST


    FERGUSON, MO - MARCH 4: Ferguson Mayor James Knowles speaks at a news conference on the just-released Department of Justice report investigating the city police department March 4, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. The Justice Department declined to charge former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of wrongdoing in the August shooting of Michael Brown Jr. The department did conclude that the Ferguson Police Department and the city's municipal court engaged in a 'pattern and practice' of discrimi


    The long-anticipated report detailed systemic issues with the Ferguson Police Department and its municipal court, and provided accounts of individual incidents, many based on police reports authored by Ferguson officers. The report lends force to the complaints of protesters and some Ferguson residents, who have long said the city treated them as sources of revenue rather than citizens to be protected.

    In a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, a Justice Department official expressed confidence that Ferguson could implement a lengthy list of necessary reforms. The official said the city cooperated with the DOJ investigation, and a meeting with Ferguson officials on Tuesday was not adversarial.


    But the public reaction of Ferguson officials to the damning report left unclear what will happen next. Mayor James Knowles III made a brief statement before cameras on Wednesday night, announcing that one Ferguson employee who sent racist emails mentioned in the report had been fired, and two other employees who sent racist emails were on leave.

    Yet Knowles, who appeared without police Chief Tom Jackson or other city officials, gave no indication that his government would continue to cooperate with federal civil rights officials. And the racist emails, though disturbing, were only a minor component of the lengthy federal report, which called into question the city’s entire approach to policing and the enforcement of its municipal code.

    The report raises the question of whether the Ferguson will continue to operate its own police department or instead contract with another law enforcement agency. Ferguson is one of the smallest cities subjected to such a Justice Department probe, and the high cost of implementing reforms, along with an anticipated decrease in municipal court revenue from fines and fees, may force the city to consider disbanding its police force of just over 50 officers.

    Attorney General Eric Holder said at Justice Department headquarters in Washington that it was “time for Ferguson’s leaders to take immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action” to address problems detailed in the report.

    Holder said police policies caused “severely damaged relationships between law enforcement and members of the community” and “made professional policing vastly more difficult -– and unnecessarily placed officers at increased risk.” He said the Justice Department would reserve the right to force the city to comply.

    “Nothing is off the table,” Holder said, adding that federal officials would also work with surrounding municipalities that are likely engaged in the same types of unconstitutional practices found in Ferguson.

    The civil rights investigation into the patterns and practices of the Ferguson Police Department began in September, just weeks after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The results of the probe were announced on Wednesday at the same time the Justice Department said there was not enough evidence to charge Wilson with willfully violating Brown’s civil rights.

    Federal investigators said their review found disparities between the treatment of blacks and whites that couldn’t be explained. For example, black drivers were more than twice as likely to be searched during vehicle stops than white drivers, even after investigators considered non-race variables. Of those searched, white drivers were much more likely to actually be in possession of contraband, indicating that officers impermissibly considered drivers’ race when deciding whether to search a vehicle.

    While black residents made up roughly 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, police seemed to only enforce certain petty municipal laws against African-Americans. Over the past few years, blacks faced 95 percent of all jaywalking charges, 94 percent of all failure to comply charges, 92 percent of all resisting arrest charges, 92 percent of all peace disturbance charges and 89 percent of failure to obey charges. Black residents also were 68 percent less likely than whites to have the charges against them dismissed by a municipal judge.

    The report found a wide range of problems with the discipline of Ferguson police officers, and said officers could lie without consequences. In one incident in November 2010, several officers, including a sergeant, were thrown out of a bar for bullying a customer, but only one of the officers was disciplined -- after he was arrested for DUI after abandoning his car in a ditch. The lack of discipline sends a message to Ferguson officers that they can “behave as they like, regardless of law or policy, and even if caught, that punishment will be light,” according to the report.

    Protesters and activists said they saw the Justice Department report largely as vindication, and many took to social media to call for the Ferguson Police Department to shut down. They noted that the constitutional problems found in Ferguson are hardly unique, common to many towns within St. Louis County’s network of municipalities. Even law enforcement officials in the St. Louis region have spoken of the need to reform municipal courts, especially with some cities deriving massive portions of their revenue from tickets and fees.

    Christopher Phillips, a 34-year-old cinematographer who was arrested by Ferguson police during a protest last month, said he was “not surprised” by the statistics and said the federal investigation confirms what he’s been telling people for years.

    “I’m glad it’s out there because it validates my experiences. Nearly every day of coming home from work I seen young men and women of color pulled over, getting searched, for years,” Phillips, who lives in the apartment complex near where Brown was killed, told HuffPost. Still, he said he found aspects of the report “jarring.”

    Phillips said he doubted that Ferguson officials could fix a system they’ve fostered for years. “If the officials in Ferguson were truly concerned, it would’ve been taken care of a long time ago,” Phillips said. “That whole system needs to be flushed out.”

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    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/10...ke-doj-report/

    Ferguson council axes city manager in wake of DOJ report
    Published March 10, 2015Associated Press

    FERGUSON, Mo. – The Ferguson City Council on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a decision to part ways with City Manager John Shaw following a scathing Justice Department report that already has led to a Missouri appeals court judge being tapped to overhaul the local court system.

    The City Council in the St. Louis suburb, beleaguered by unrest since a white police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer, held its first public meeting since the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused its police force and municipal court system of racial bias.

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    A news release from the city said the Council had reached a "mutual separation agreement" with Shaw, 39, effective immediately. The statement also said a nationwide search for Shaw's replacement would also begin immediately.

    "I believe that the city of Ferguson has the resolve to overcome the challenges it faces in the coming months and emerge as a stronger community for it," Shaw said in a statement included in the release.

    The Justice Department investigation already has resulted in a shake-up: Racist emails included in the report led to the firing of the city clerk and resignation of two police officers last week.

    And on Monday, Municipal Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer resigned and was immediately replaced by the Missouri Supreme Court with a state appellate judge empowered to overhaul court policies to "restore the integrity of the system."

    Since Brown's death seven months ago, Mayor James Knowles has been the public face and voice of Ferguson's city government. But it's City Manager John Shaw who is its chief executive and holds the legal power to make personnel and policy changes in the police department — not Knowles, a part-time officeholder who earns less than $5,000 annually.

    Ferguson's city charter prohibits elected officials from "dictating the appointment or removal" of any city employees, including Police Chief Tom Jackson, whom Shaw hired in 2010. Knowles and other City Council members are also forbidden from giving "orders, directions or instructions" to city workers. They do, however, have the power to hire or fire the manager.

    Shaw has been Ferguson's city manager for eight years. He had previously worked as city clerk and assistant to the city administrator in Shrewsbury, another town in St. Louis County.

    Online biographies indicate that he grew up in north St. Louis County and lived in Ferguson before working for the city. He was honored in 2013 as a distinguished alumnus of a public policy administration program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which is located near Ferguson, and was listed as an adviser for the university's student group for aspiring city managers.

    Shaw has not spoken publicly about the shooting, protests, grand jury inquiry or Justice Department investigation. He stood silently beside two City Council members at Knowles' Wednesday news conference responding to the Justice Department report and declined, through a city spokesman, a subsequent Associated Press interview request.

    The Justice Department report repeatedly cited Shaw's role in encouraging his police force to aggressively ticket motorists as a means to generate revenue.

    In one instance, he responded to a Jackson email about a record-setting month for court revenue — nearly $180,000 in February 2011 alone — with the exclamation, "Wonderful!"

    And when Jackson told Shaw in January 2013 that municipal court revenue had exceeded $2 million the previous year, the city manager was similarly excited.

    "Awesome!" he said, according to the federal inquiry.

    But in a statement issued after the announcement of his departure, Shaw said his office "never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false," Shaw said.

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    Ferguson court clerk, who was fired over racist emails, fixed traffic tickets for friends: report
    BY RACHELLE BLIDNER NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Saturday, March 7, 2015, 11:21 AM A A A


    Mary Ann Twitty, a Ferguson court clerk who was fired over racist emails, is seen in an undated photo from her Facebook page with former Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown.

    Mary Ann Twitty, a Ferguson court clerk who was fired over racist emails, is seen in an undated photo from her Facebook page with former Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown.

    The Ferguson, Mo., top court official who was fired over racist emails made her friends' traffic tickets go away — as she helped the local government make revenue off of blacks and poor people, according to a report.

    Court Clerk Mary Ann Twitty, 60, was fired after the Department of Justice released a scathing report this week uncovering systematic racial discrimination and routine offensive emails.

    Twitty proudly displayed her friendship with Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed black teen Michael Brown, making her Facebook cover picture an undated group photo of the former police officer with his arm around her.

    The top court clerk took care of her colleagues and associates, making sure they did not have to pay fines and citations, the DOJ report said. City officials did not confirm that Twitty was this clerk, but it is her, the Guardian reported.

    "There is evidence that the Court Clerk and a City of Hazelwood clerk 'fixed' at least 12 tickets at each other's request," federal investigators said in the report.

    The court clerk helped Municipal Court Judge Ronald Brockmeyer clear a notice for a speeding violation in a nearby town in August, according to the report.

    "In March 2014, a friend of the Court Clerk's relative emailed the Court Clerk with a scanned copy of a ticket asking if there was anything she could do to help," the report said. "She responded: 'Your ticket of $200 has magically disappeared!'

    Later, in June 2014, the same person emailed the Court Clerk regarding two tickets and asked: 'Can you work your magic again? It would be deeply appreciated.' The Clerk later informed him one ticket had been dismissed and she was waiting to hear about the second ticket."

    Meanwhile, Twitty collected harsh fines from Ferguson residents and gave them warrants despite their pleas for leniency, according to the report.

    She was also responsible for policies that helped the government raise revenue, including setting targets for court fines and fees, the report said. Most cases were determined with the discretion of Twitty and other white court staff, who operated with a "racial bias," the report said.

    Twitty is not the only official who lost her job over accusations of racism.

    Protestors demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department after the Department of Justice decided not to charge then Ferguson cop Darren Wilson for the August shooting of Michael Brown.
    PreviousNextProtestors demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department after the Department of Justice decided today not to charge then Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, of any wrongdoing in the August shooting of Michael Brown Jr. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said at a news conference that ‘this type of behavior will not be tolerated.’ Michael Brown Jr, 17, was shot to death by Darren Wilson in St. Louis on August
    Protestors demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department after the Department of Justice decided not to charge then Ferguson cop Darren Wilson for the August shooting of Michael Brown.

    Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd resigned Thursday after being suspended over the racist emails.

    Henke was suspended in connection to a 2008 email that implied President Obama would not hold the office for very long because of the stereotype that black men can't keep a job, the St. Louis Dispatch reported.

    Mudd was connected to a 2011 email joking that CrimeStoppers paid a black woman to abort her baby, sources told the paper.

    It is not clear what role Twitty had in the racist email exchanges. Her termination was announced Wednesday by city spokesman Jeff Small.

    Although there have been calls for Police Chief Thomas Jackson to resign, Mayor James Knowles said Jackson was not copied on the emails and would be further investigated, CNN reported.

    Knowles, along with the municipal judge and a prosecuting attorney, is also named in the report for allegedly fixing tickets.

    The judge, Brockmeyer, owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes while jailing poor defendants who do not pay court fines, the Guardian reported.


    Brockmeyer may have a conflict of interest because of his simultaneous roles as private attorney and prosecutor for two neighboring cities, legal experts said.

    The judge was named in a civil lawsuit filed last month that claims the Ferguson court operated a debtors' prison to raise revenue.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Carp's Avatar
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    Why is this a thread all to itself and not in The Great Police Work Thread?

  5. #5
    Banned Jiggyfly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carp View Post
    Why is this a thread all to itself and not in The Great Police Work Thread?
    Because I thought these issues uncovered deserved its own discussion, you can move it if you feel the need.

  6. #6
    Senior Tech dallen's Avatar
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    Those percentages are pretty damning

  7. #7
    Senior Member Clay_Allison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dallen View Post
    Those percentages are pretty damning
    That's the main reason everything blew up there, it wasn't the Brown shooting, it was the fact that the spark happened in a powderkeg that the local PD created.

  8. #8
    El Presidente' skidadl's Avatar
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    It sounds like the police department and city needs to get its act together.

    Another big question is why don't blacks run that joint as it is? They have a 67% black population yet white folks are elected officials. Blacks should pretty much be in charge from top to bottom there. The black folk need to get out and vote. Do something about their situation...

    Get yo people in office, people. Then you've got way less to complain about.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clay_Allison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidadl View Post
    It sounds like the police department and city needs to get its act together.

    Another big question is why don't blacks run that joint as it is? They have a 67% black population yet white folks are elected officials. Blacks should pretty much be in charge from top to bottom there. The black folk need to get out and vote. Do something about their situation...

    Get yo people in office, people. Then you've got way less to complain about.
    It doesn't say what % of the black population are convicted felons who can't vote. Drug laws plus heavily biased prosecution of same vs minorities has them swinging well below their political weight in a lot of areas of the country.

  10. #10
    El Presidente' skidadl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clay_Allison View Post
    It doesn't say what % of the black population are convicted felons who can't vote. Drug laws plus heavily biased prosecution of same vs minorities has them swinging well below their political weight in a lot of areas of the country.
    I think I read where the black voter turnout was like 5-6% or something.

    I get the oppression. I really do. Still, they have a chance to empower themselves there but for whatever reason fail to do so. It is sad and frustrating all at the same time.

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