A Taser, with cartridge removed, making an electric arc between its two electrodes
jasonesbain | Wikipedia

About four months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, police less than 15 miles down I-70 in St. Charles shot another man named Brown. The event barely drew any attention from anyone except immediate family and friends.

(St. Louis County Police)

For the first time in its 55 years, the St. Louis County police department is taking part of its recruitment process on the road.

Anyone who wants to enter the county's police academy has to pass a written test and a physical evaluation, as well as meet certain other criteria. Those tests are usually offered only at the academy building in Wellston, but this weekend, they'll both be offered at a neutral site.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

Ferguson may already be having an impact on how officials elsewhere respond to incidents involving racial tensions. 

That's the opinion of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that "the fact that lessons have been learned from what happened in Ferguson is a terrific legacy for this event that obviously ripped us apart in St. Louis.”

One lesson officials appear to have learned is the important of a quick, decisive response.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The Ferguson police department and municipal court engaged in such a widespread pattern of unconstitutional conduct that it lost the trust of the people, the Justice Department concluded after a seven-month investigation.

The federal civil rights case that the Justice Department is unveiling against the Ferguson Police Department offers the town great opportunities but also poses substantial costs and risks, experts say.

Jason Rojas | Flickr

WASHINGTON — Brittany Packnett, the St. Louis area educator and activist on President Barack Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, says the work of implementing the panel’s recommendations begins now that she’s back home.

gavel court justice

Updated Feb. 25

St. Louis circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce has withdrawn her subpoena of St. Louis Public Radio. The station was subpoenaed at the end of January after a conflict broke out during a Public Safety Committee hearing at St. Louis City Hall.

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.