U.S. Department of Justice | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Department of Justice

Money from St. Louis County helped build a community center and garden in the Castle Point neighborhood. The county has received a $1 million federal grant to do more community outreach like this.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County has received $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to get the Castle Point community in north county more involved in fighting crime.

Parts of unincorporated north St. Louis County have struggled for years with high crime rates. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said the grant would help reverse that trend.

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.

Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Sandra Karsten speaks with interim St. Louis Police Chief Larry O'Toole in July. The Highway Patrol began monitoring St. Louis highways this summer.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Halfway through a 90-day initiative, the Missouri Highway Patrol has confiscated at least 20 illegal guns and made hundreds of arrests for outstanding warrants on Interstates 55 and 70 in St. Louis.

It’s the first time in modern history the patrol has deployed up to 30 troopers on interstate highways within the city of St. Louis for an extended period of time, Capt. John Hotz said. But watching the highways may be one of the few things state and federal government can do to help St. Louis bring down its crime rate, putting the onus primarily on St. Louis’ officers and citizens.

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

Pledging money, research and expertise for local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought a face to the Trump administration’s pro-police message during a speech Friday in St. Louis.

He also made general mention of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer, and the tensions between police and African-Americans.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Ferguson signed a consent decree to reform the city's police department and municipal courts. And both sides acknowledged Wednesday that they aren't as far along as they should be.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In September 2016, the city of Ferguson seemed to be floundering in its efforts to comply with a federal civil rights consent decree.

"We are not where we had hoped to be," said Justice Department attorney Christy Lopez said at the time. "Certainly, some deadlines have passed." 

But at a hearing Tuesday in front of judge Catherine Perry, the city, the Justice Department and the team overseeing the city's compliance with the decree all finally seemed to be pulling in the same direction.

Attendees for both a welcome rally for Ferguson's new police chief, Delrish Moss, and a protest against the city's attorney, Stephanie Karr, demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department on May 9, 2016.
File photo Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The team in charge of making sure that the city of Ferguson is complying with a federal consent decree will be in St. Louis on Wednesday to hear from the community.

Clark Ervin will meet as many individuals and groups as he can on Wednesday. The 15-minute meetings will take place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and can be scheduled by emailing Ervin at clark.ervin@squirepb.com.

Activists continue to demonstrate against city attorney Stephanie Karr as a police vehicle idles in front of them near Karr's home on Wesley Avenue Monday evening.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People calling for the ouster of Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr chanted and carried signs in a protest that wound its way from the police department to Karr’s house Monday evening.

It was the very first day on the job for new police chief Delrish Moss. But it wasn't the first time Karr has been the subject of controversy.

The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.

When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the suit on Wednesday, she said Ferguson police disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences.

Organization for Black Struggle members organize activists and Ferguson residents into a group outside the Ferguson Police Department Thurs Dec. 3, 2015 to call for public input in the city's consent decree.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As negotiations to reform the Ferguson Police Department continue between the city of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice, a group of Ferguson residents spearheaded by the Organization for Black Struggle says it’s concerned that the taxpayers and community members don’t know the details of those negotiations.

The group, known as the Ferguson Collaborative, wants community stakeholders to be able to weigh in at a public “fairness hearing” before a judge signs off on the consent decree.

Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is not alone in confronting an increase in violent crime, but what little comfort that may provide city officials is tempered by the fact that there are relatively few resources readily available to help cities across the U.S. confront their own rise in gun and drug related violence.

Mayors from 20 cities along with chiefs of police, an array of federal law enforcement officials, and academics met in Washington on Wednesday for a Department of Justice sponsored summit on violent crime.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Samuel Dotson, both attended the day-long session to share ideas, concerns and to make appeals to federal officials for assistance.

Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
YouTube | Fair Housing conference

Updated 4:30 p.m. with comments from Civil Rights Division and react - A 20-month investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found the St. Louis County Family Court violates the constitutional rights of children in its custody.

Ferguson police headquarters on March 3, 2015
File photo |UPI | Bill Greenblatt

Nearly a month ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report on the Ferguson Police Department. The federal Civil Rights Division found the city's "law enforcement practices were shaped by the city's focus on revenue rather than on public safety needs," causing a pattern of stops and arrests that violated the constitutional rights of the city's majority black population.

Members of the Justice Department’s civil rights team will meet with Ferguson residents Thursday night in the first of several such meetings following the release of the department’s investigative report finding patterns of racial bias in the city’s police department and municipal court.

Protests and chants came into the St. Louis County Council chambers Tuesday night.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Why did the Justice Department conclude that Michael Brown didn’t cry out “Don’t shoot” and that, if he had his hands up, it was only for a moment before he began moving back toward Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson?

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 17, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was one of the most visible people in Ferguson, the city and related social media, last summer and fall after the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Since then, French has shifted his attention back to the 21st Ward and North Campus, an education-based community program that helps parents and students. But he’s also still active in Ferguson efforts.

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.

A police officer is silhouetted against Ferguson's police department and municipal court building, during nighttime protests on November 26, 2014.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Update 03/13/15 at 10:30 a.m.

Ron Brockmeyer has resigned as city prosecutor in Florissant and Vinita Park. He had earlier resigned from the municipal judge post in Ferguson and as prosecutor in Dellwood. Florissant Mayor Thomas Schneider praised Brockmeyer's "efficient service," saying in a statement that "his unselfish resignation will enable our elected municipal judge, Dan Boyle, to continue the work he began after his election in April 2011 to streamline and improve Florissant’s judicial process to make it even more fair, effective and efficient."

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