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Ferguson, Justice Unveil Draft Of Negotiated Consent Decree

The City of Ferguson, Mo., and the Justice Department have released a draft of the consent decree that they have negotiated.

The 127-page proposed agreement creates guidelines for training police officers on issues like when they should use force and how they can "reorient Ferguson's use-of-force policies toward de-escalation and avoiding force." The agreement also requires body-worn cameras and an overhaul of the municipal court system.

Importantly, as with other agreements in the past, it requires the selection and appointment of an independent monitor.

If you remember, an investigation by the Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department engaged in a pattern and practice of violating the constitutional rights of its citizens.

African-Americans, for example, were disproportionately stopped and arrested by police. Blacks were also disproportionately ticketed, and the laws were then overwhelmingly enforced against African-Americans.

Since the report was issued, the city and Justice began negotiating an agreement to avoid a lawsuit. The consent decree must now be approved by the Ferguson City Council.

The council is waiting for public comment but expects to vote on the agreement by Feb. 9.

"We remain hopeful that the City Council will approve the Agreement on that date, and that we will not have to resort to contested litigation, given that this would delay implementation of much needed police and court reform, and divert substantial resources away from the reform effort," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta told the council in a letter.

The Justice Departmentlaunched an investigation into the police department in September 2014, about a month after violent protests erupted in the streets of Ferguson following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is an international correspondent for NPR. He was named NPR's Mexico City correspondent in 2022. Before that, he was based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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