Ferguson consent decree | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson consent decree

Image of a Ferguson Police car, January 2017
Paul Sableman | Flickr

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.

ArchCity Defenders

The city of Ferguson has decided it will no longer prosecute Fred Watson.

Ferguson’s municipal prosecutor officially dropped the charges Monday against Watson, a Navy veteran who was arrested in 2012 while sitting in his parked car after a basketball game. Ferguson charged him with several ordinance violations, including failure to wear a seatbelt.

Ferguson on August 14, 2014
File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

 

On August 9, 2014, Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in the Canfield Green apartment complex. His death touched off weeks of protests, reigniting a national conversation about race and policing that continues to this day.

Closer to home, reforms have been slow to take hold, even those mandated by the federal Justice Department. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but, rather, a big-picture view of what has and hasn’t changed.

Protesters walk down West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Aug. 9, 2016, two years after Mike Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A black U.S. Navy veteran sued the city of Ferguson this week, alleging his rights were violated during a 2012 arrest for ordinance violations.

It’s the latest in a series of court battles for the St. Louis County municipality, especially since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014, touched off weeks of protests and exposed serious problems within Ferguson’s police department and courts.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Jude Volek, center, listens to activists in the Ferguson community June 22, 2017 after an update on the progress Ferguson is making on mandated changes to its police and courts.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time since it was adopted, Ferguson residents and activists got a chance Thursday to give their take on how the city is doing at making federally mandated changes to its municipal court and police department.

Everyone who spoke appreciated the opportunity to weigh in, but the reviews given to U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry were decidedly mixed. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials Friday morning at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. (March 31, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been more than a week since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wanted to review all agreements between the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and local police departments — a move that could have a major impact in Ferguson.

If the consent decree that came after the August 2014 fatal shooting of Michael Brown goes away, there would be no independent monitor to oversee the significant changes to the police department’s training and operations, including a new use-of-force policy. It’s not clear who would pick up the accountability baton.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2 p.m. with NAACP comment — Ferguson officials say they have not been notified by federal authorities about a potential review of the city's agreement with the Justice Department involving local police and municipal court reforms.

On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all consent decrees to be reviewed, including agreements in Ferguson, Baltimore and Chicago.