Ferguson has made good progress in reforming its police department and municipal court, a federal judge said Tuesday, though it’s far from over.
Ferguson’s police and court have been operating under federal oversight for more than a year. The city has written new policies on things like use-of-force and recruiting new officers, but has missed deadlines to implement them.
“We need to keep doing this work,” U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry said during a regular update from city officials and the U.S. Department of Justice. “We are going to keep pushing this.”
Some of the new policies, such as those focused on community policing, still need to be reviewed by various citizen committees set up in the agreement between the federal government and Ferguson, according to Justice Department attorney Jude Volek.
But “core practices do look different,” he said, adding that Ferguson’s police department has created new opportunities for police and community members to connect.
Volek said Ferguson hasn’t quite reached where it needs to be when it comes to policies governing traffic stops and seizures.
Perry said she understood that the missed deadlines are causing frustration, but that she believes the city is working in good faith with the Justice Department and did not seem inclined to punish Ferguson for its missed deadlines.
Ferguson council member Ella Jones welcomed Perry’s stance.
“When you consistently work on something and you’re making progress, then you’re moving closer to the deadlines. But to fine someone, or say that they’re not doing a good job, is not the case here,” she said.
Next up is reviewing at least 10,000 old municipal court cases and deciding whether to keep prosecuting them.
The team assigned to monitor the agreement reviewed Ferguson’s municipal court in August. The results of that audit are expected before the next review in front of Perry in December.
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