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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 Aug. 20, 2014, death of Kajieme Powell
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: 

Police and protesters face off in Ferguson during the marches in August.
Stephanie Lecci / St. Louis Public Radio

There is a phone number that Ferguson protesters share: 314-862-2249.

That's the jail support number that they spread through Twitter and on fliers. Others write it on their arms in case of arrest.

The number goes to a hotline staffed around the clock by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. The group gives individuals rides home from jail and raises money through a website to pay bonds. So far, it has served about 210 people, according to organizer Molly Gott.

Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

It's home to just 822 residents living on 69 acres, but the city of Flordell Hills is getting its own police department. 

The St. Louis County suburb's contract with its slightly larger neighbor, Country Club Hills, expires at midnight Tuesday. Some of Flordell Hills' six officers had already been patrolling the streets of the town, which sits between Jennings Station and West Florissant roads.

More seats were empty than filled at Greater St. Marks Family Church during a discussion about bridging the gap between police and the community Saturday, September 27, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Four young people active in the Ferguson protests joined two St. Louis County Police officers and two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers for an emotional discussion Saturday about the barriers between police and the community. Before an audience of about 50, they offered and discussed suggestions to start bridging the gap.

Most of the panelists agreed that the effort led to some progress towards understanding.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and 25-year-old Kajieme Powell in St. Louis have focused a bright spotlight on the authority that police officers have to use force – sometimes deadly – to keep themselves and others safe.

Fatal use of force encounters are rare. But the questions raised when they happen reflect society’s broader struggles.

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

More than one-third of the military equipment deemed surplus and made available in the Defense Department’s so-called 1033 program was either new or unused according to information provided Tuesday to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice faced sometimes pointed questions about waste, weak oversight and almost nonexistent coordination among the programs their departments administer to help local police departments gain access to military equipment.

Rebecca Smith

On Tuesday's one-month anniversary of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, some local leaders focused on ways to move forward, while Brown's family called again for answers in the investigation.

Local elected leaders representing the Ferguson area came together Tuesday to discuss strategies to heal after the unrest that shook the city for more than two weeks in August following Brown's death.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus used an hour of so-called special orders on the House floor Monday night to draw attention to troubles confronting minorities across the U.S. with special attention paid to the recent unrest in Ferguson., Missouri. 

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, opened his comments by saying the pain felt in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown “has stirred the conscience of the nation and has forced us to confront some very difficult truths.” 

Claire McCaskill's Flickr Page

Armed with a "laundry list of questions," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will lead the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday in a hearing to examine the militarization of local police departments. The hearing follows public outrage over what some saw as an excessive police response to protests in Ferguson following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer.

Three different federal departments have programs to help local police departments acquire military-type hardware, including armored vehicles, and tactical gear and weapons.

Honking cars backed up traffic along West Florissant Avenue Friday evening.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

After another night of looting, the union leader of the St. Louis County Police criticized the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s decision to respond to protests with a relaxed police presence.

“Even though they were very critical of the tactics used during the first four days, they are now using those same tactics once again,” Crocker said. “We have individuals who have been shot, officers who have been injured. People that have been assaulted and robbed.”

Protesters are greeted by lines of state and county police during a demonstration march on the Ferguson police station on August 11, 2014.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Armored cars, rubber bullets, riot shields and K-9 units have had a regular presence at demonstrations in Ferguson over the past week since a Ferguson police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown.


Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon put the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge in Ferguson and called for a softer tone in the police presence.

Many are wondering if the police went overboard in using force against the crowds that have gathered in Ferguson every evening since Brown's death.

Protesters are greeted by a wall of police officers after a march to the Ferguson Police department on August 11, 2014.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI / UPI

The calls for greater representation of minorities in the region's law enforcement ranks have grown louder in the wake of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson police officer. Protesters want to see more minorities especially in the police departments serving predominantly African-American communities.

Two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black, according to 2013 census records. But there are only three African Americans on the city’s 53-member police force. The city council is also predominantly white, as is the mayor.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)

Like many cities around the country, St. Louis is dealing with the ongoing problem of urban crime. Just over half-way through the year, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson says overall crime is down over 11 percent, and violent crime is down almost 6 percent. Overall crime in the city is down almost 50 percent since 2006.

“We have many fewer crimes now than we did just five years ago,” Dotson said Wednesday. With one noticeable exception.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A rumored threat made against Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) has turned out to be false, according to the State Highway Patrol.

It centered on alleged comments in which someone was quoted as saying they wanted to hire someone to kill the governor.  MSHP Captain Tim Hull says they wrapped up their investigation this afternoon.