DOJ issues "scorching" report on Ferguson PD


#1

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#2

So the DOJ has evidence of FPD committing crimes and violating human rights and rather than doing something about it, they release a report… oh, how very scorching…


#3

It’s not just the police force in Ferguson that’s not racially representative of the populace, it’s the entire local government.

If only there were some way that the black majority in Ferguson could influence public elections.

“12% turnout is an insult to your children.” - Al Sharpton


#4

“12% turnout is an insult to your children.” - Al Sharpton

Biting, but not incisive. Turnout requires faith in the candidates, and representative candidacy requires faith in the system. The community’s faith in each is justifiably diminished, as is the nation’s.


#5

There aren’t a lot of reports like this that opens up the fact that this police force is creating harm and terror for minorities. It also helps open the dialogue that we have thousands of Fergusons throughout this country. And it’s more than a report, it’s the Feds telling them to improve their ways or they will be shut down.


#6

I see, so it’s ok to commit crimes and violate the rights of others as long as you have a plan to improve? Can I use that defense next time I’m in court or is that privilege only extended to the police?


#7

They also found numerous other pervasive criminal actions amongst the police department. Reminds me - and probably everyone - of the problems in the 50s and 60s. But, also reminds me of the problem of the mafia in the 70s. I wonder if RICO can start to be used in such a condition. It was noted that the offending officer was previously with another small police agency of another smallish town where there was a massive shakeup and mass firing of officers over organized racism.

Kind of also reminds me of the problem faced when you are occupying a country and have to overhaul the police and military.

Ferguson, of course, is more of a test case. Plenty of police departments around the country exactly like it. Surely they could train the local populace and recruit them to take the place of these officers.

Out of work (or jailed) racist cops with dedicated ideals towards authoritarianism is far, far better then pockets of America operating as if they are in North Korea.


#8

one problem with simply disbanding the police departments and starting over is that those officers could just go to work for another police department in the area or somewhere else taking all of their bad habits and ways of thinking with them. after all as @gurglegurglebangbang noted , officer wilson came from a pd that hat been disbanded from a locality near to ferguson. if these police departments weren’t working these schemes with the license of governmental authority they would be classic shakedown/protection rackets eminently suitable for prosecution under rico. the worst thing about ferguson/st. lousi county et al. is that this doesn’t just happen in the upper south or the lower south. it seems to happen almost everywhere the police forces of a community are not part of the community. as i have grown older and more experienced (i am 53) my respect for law enforcement has curdled to contempt for all but a tiny fraction of them. in my own community i have encountered and interacted with many of my city’s police and my county’s sheriff’s deputies and there are only two or three who are anything other than racists and control junkies.


#9

Good for the DOJ.


#10

It may require well-funded, black candidates, also. Anyone know what the distribution of race for various candidates for elected offices in Ferguson is? And how well black candidates get funded compared to their white fellow candidates?

And that’s just leaving aside the probability that elections in Ferguson might be as bent as a very bendy thing.


#11

Pretty close to the percentage of black Furguson residents who can show up at the poll and not be nailed by a bogus arrest warrant.


#12

Not a lawyer here, but to my understanding, arrest at the poll is unconstitutional in Missouri, unless it’s for treason, a felony, or breach of the peace: http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/Consthtml/A080041.html .

Of course there’s still the valid position that that’s just a “parchment guarantee”, but it is interesting to note the existence of the law.


#13

Also unconstitutional is arresting someone for video recording an interaction with the cops.


#14

Hmmm. Arrest voters for suspected felonies at the polls, hold them for 48 hours and then release them, dropping the charges…

You’ve got something there, Sir! As an added bonus, we only need to drop the original charges. We can continue with the charges of Resisting Arrest and Failure to Obey. Yes, you’ve got quite the system worked out! clap clap clap I do believe this next election is in the bag!


#15

And of course, the US is a place where one party would NEVER place robo-calls implying that if you show up to vote and you have a warrant out, you’ll be arrested.

Or use any other messages to suppress the black vote.


#16

Full report here. Some quotes:

Ferguson has allowed its focus on revenue generation to fundamentally compromise the role of Ferguson’s municipal court. The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct. Instead, the court primarily uses its judicial authority as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests.

[…] the court issues municipal arrest warrants not on the basis of public safety needs, but rather as a routine response to missed court appearances and required fine payments. In 2013 alone, the court issued over 9,000 warrants on cases stemming in large part from minor violations such as parking infractions, traffic tickets, or housing code violations.

[…] African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population.

[…] at the end of fiscal year 2009, the municipal court had roughly 24,000 traffic cases and 28,000 non-traffic cases pending. As of October 31, 2014, both of those figures had roughly doubled to 53,000 and 50,000 cases, respectively. In fiscal year 2009, 16,178 new cases were filed, and 8,727 were resolved. In 2014, by contrast, 24,256 new offenses were filed, and 10,975 offenses were resolved.

The court holds three or four sessions per month, and each session lasts no more than three hours. It is not uncommon for as many as 500 people to appear before the court in a single session, exceeding the court’s physical capacity and leading individuals to line up outside of court waiting to be heard. Many people have multiple offenses pending; accordingly, the court typically considers 1,200-1,500 offenses in a single session, and has in the past considered over 2,000 offenses during one sitting.

Of the $11.07 million in general fund revenue the City collected in fiscal year 2010, $1.38 million came from fines and fees collected by the court; similarly, in fiscal year 2011, the City’s general fund revenue of $11.44 million included $1.41 million from fines and fees. In its budget for fiscal year 2012, however, the City predicted that revenue from municipal fines and fees would increase over 30% from the previous year’s amount to $1.92 million; the court exceeded that target, collecting $2.11 million.

City and police leadership pressure officers to write citations, independent of any public safety need, and rely on citation productivity to fund the City budget. In an email from March 2010, the Finance Director wrote to Chief Jackson that “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year. What are your thoughts? Given that we are looking at a substantial sales tax shortfall, it’s not an insignificant issue.”

[…] in March 2011, the Chief reported to the City Manager that court revenue in February was $179,862.50, and that the total “beat our next biggest month in the last four years by over $17,000,” to which the City Manager responded: “Wonderful!”

[…] in November 2013, an officer approached five African-American young people listening to music in a car. Claiming to have smelled marijuana, the officer placed them under arrest for disorderly conduct based on their “gathering in a group for the purposes of committing illegal activity.” The young people were detained and charged—some taken to jail, others delivered to their parents—despite the officer finding no marijuana, even after conducting an inventory search of the car.

Go and have a look. It’s a forensic inspection of Ferguson PD and municipal court.


#17

What a strange way to read what he wrote. Almost as if something around here was made of straw. It looked to me as if he was saying almost the opposite of what you did. In fact it’s quite likely this PD will be disbanded, and all new employees hired, and that’s hardly justice but it could do a lot to mitigate the problem.


#18

If you ran a business in a small town and committed crimes, would you be afforded the luxury of simply being able to come up with a plan to change or face having to close your business or would you be in jail?


#19

“We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.”

More than 50 years since MLK said it.

Don’t forget damaging police property when they bled on the uniforms.


#20

Well I’m not here to argue with you, but I’ve lived a few years in a very tiny town, and most business owners there would absolutely get away with murder - quite literally. Unless they had an Obama bumper sticker, that could spell serious trouble.

But that’s beside the point. You seem to think the DOJ report is nothing but empty words, while it might actually carrry severe repurcussions. And to jump from “DOJ report” to “crime is just fine” is a really really big jump.