U.S. Civil Rights Commission discusses Ferguson in St. Louis
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri committee that keeps an eye on civil rights violations is the latest body to wade into the discussion about improving police-community relations after the August 2014 death of Michael Brown.

The 12-member Missouri Advisory Committee heard a full day of testimony from academics, law enforcement and community leaders. The committee's chairman, S. David Mitchell, said two public comment periods were the most important part. 

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch delivers a keynote address at a Saint Louis University law school  symposium on policing after Ferguson on February 20, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

In a speech interrupted three times by protesters, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch gave a full-throated defense Friday of the way his office handled the case of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. 

Logos of the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan Police.
St. Louis County website / file photo

Footage from police body cameras would be exempt from Missouri’s open records law if a bill moving through the Missouri Senate becomes law.

Program works to rebuild trust between cops and kids

Feb 16, 2015
Students who participate in an after -school program at Hanrahan elementary speak with a St. Louis County Police officer.
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Sixth grader Jmarria Franklin of Kenneth C. Hanrahan Elementary School in Jennings says she didn’t have a good opinion about police after Michael Brown’s death.

“I thought they were kind of bad because when the Michael Brown situation had happened everybody started hating police and stuff because he got shot for no reason,” she said.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s two members of the Congressional Black Caucus both say President Barack Obama encouraged members of the caucus to find Republican colleagues to help pass criminal justice system reforms sought by many in the group. 

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal
Missouri Senate

Body cameras could be required for all Missouri law enforcement officers under a newly proposed Senate bill.

Pro-police rally organizer Trish Dennison holds the bullhorn for the pledge of allegiance on Saturday, January 24, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

Several dozen people showed their support for police Saturday afternoon in Clayton with a rally in front of St. Louis County Police headquarters. Many dressed in blue and white. Some carried signs that read “We support our LEOs” and “Police Lives Matter.” Others waved American flags.

At a table in front of the memorial for slain officers, Bill Peiper and Teresa Tate sold T-shirts with their 6-year-old son, Colton Tate. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

In the parking lot of a small strip mall across the street from the Mobil station in Berkeley where the police shooting of 18-year-old Antonio Martin took place this morning, television crews from national networks were setting up and a few protesters milled around this morning.

“It’s Christmas, we’ll pray for peace,” said Tom Kiely, who owns the strip mall.   

For now, Kiely said he doesn’t plan on boarding up storefronts -- like many of the businesses in nearby Ferguson have done. But that could change.

Brittany Packnett
File photo

Brittany Packnett says she’s made a career of “listening intently and intensively” to the needs of young people.  The former third-grade teacher, current Ferguson activist and executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis will now put her listening and leadership skills to use as a member of President Barack Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing.

File photo

This week, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that requires police departments to report the deaths of individuals in police custody. The bill’s passage on Wednesday came one day after witnesses before a subcommittee on human rights also expressed their support for the measure; their testimony illustrated why the legislation is needed. The bill, which passed the House last year at this time, now goes to the president for his signature.     

Darren Wilson
Undated video grab

One of the most important reforms that could grow out of the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, experts say, would be the creation of a national database containing detailed information about all police shootings, whether or not suspects are wounded or killed.

On this much experts agree. But beneath that agreement, the debate about police use of force is fraught with sharp disagreements about how important a factor race plays.

The laws governing how much force police are allowed to use has had a long, circuitous history.
Flickr | Quinn Dombrowski

Second of two parts.

Even though a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the case against Wilson is not entirely closed. The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting an investigation into the Aug. 9 incident.

Protesters gather on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

First of two parts.

Two grand juries in two very different cases have refused to indict white police officers for the deaths of two black men. As a result, many people are wondering if it's possible to hold police officers accountable for use of deadly force.

State and federal laws could be reformed to make it easier to punish police officers who misuse deadly force, but legal experts say those changes would face political hurdles and an unfriendly U.S. Supreme Court. 

via Facebook/Speed Factory Athletics

Since 2000, police departments in the state of Missouri have been required by law to report information about their traffic stops – including the race of the person pulled over. 

(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)
(WhiteHouse.gov video screen capture)

President Barack Obama says he has asked Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to create a plan for a “careful and appropriate response to any potential violence” that may occur after the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case is made public.

Speaking Sunday on ABC’s This Week, the president said he doesn’t want a repeat of this past August.

Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, is leading a study for Better Together about how the region's policing agencies should be structured.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

When Better Together formed last year, it was already planning to examine how the region polices itself — especially because St. Louis County has so many different departments that patrol towns and cities.

But the review became more than just a theoretical exercise after the shooting death of Michael Brown. The roughly 60 police departments throughout St. Louis County underwent intense scrutiny for aggressive ticketing, little racial diversity and the targeting of African Americans. There have been widespread calls for substantial changes.

Police cars park outside of the Bel-Ridge Municipal Complex, which includes spaces for Village Hall, its municipal court, and the police department.  11/8/14, Durrie Bouscaren
Durrie Bouscaren/St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

A 2012 audit of the police department in Bel-Ridge is getting new attention from some members of the community's Board of Trustees.

Longtime resident and trustee Rachel White has been pushing for change since she found the audit this year in a stack of papers. It showed mismanagement and possible misconduct of officers. But the entity with the power to address it — the Village Board of Trustees —  had failed to make major changes.

Footage of cell phone video of the August 20 death of Kajieme Powell
Credit Video provided by St. Louis Metropolitan Police

Legal representatives of the family of Kajieme Powell say they filed a lawsuit seeking financial damages Friday. The 25-year-old was shot and killed by two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers in August.

The defendants in the suit are the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the two officers involved in the shooting.

The St. Louis Police Wives' Association works to support law enforcement officers and their families.
SLPWA website

As protests have continued in the St. Louis area following August's police shooting of Michael Brown, it's not just responding officers who are feeling the strain. It's also affecting their families.

One St. Louis organization that specifically provides support for police and their families is now reporting that it has doubled in size in recent weeks. And other members of police families are becoming more vocal and public with their support for law enforcement.

Toll on families

St. Louis Police Officers Association president Joe Steiger, business manager Jeff Roorda and attorney Brian Millikan comment on the lab tests that found gun residue on the hand of Vonderrit Myers during a press conference Tuesday.
Stephanie Lecci

Lab results show gunshot residue was found on the 18-year-old who was fatally shot by an off-duty St. Louis police officer in the Shaw neighborhood last week, according to new information released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday.

The tests were conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol's crime lab. The results found gunshot residue on Vonderrit Myers, Jr.'s, hand, inner waistband, front and back jeans pockets and black t-shirt. The released statement also read: