Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ferguson Votes to Amend Police Reform Deal With Justice Department

FILE - Officers and protesters face off along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 10, 2015.

The city council in Ferguson, Missouri voted Tuesday to amend an agreement it made with the U.S. Justice Department to institute a number of reforms in its police and court system.

Ferguson rose to national prominence in 2014 when a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown, sparking protests across the country about police conduct and use of force. A grand jury declined to charge the officer and the Justice Department cleared him of wrongdoing.

But a Justice Department investigation did result in accusations of unconstitutional and discriminatory practices by police and the courts in Ferguson. That prompted the proposed reforms, which include hiring a monitor, diversity training for police and analyzing data on arrests and use of force by officers.

The Ferguson city council voted unanimously to remove provisions to give pay raises to police and for the agreement to apply to any entity that might take over services such as policing from the city.

Officials worried about the cost of the programs, which have an estimated price tag of $3.7 million in the first year.

The Justice Department reacted to the vote by saying Ferguson is trying to amend a negotiated agreement on its own.

"Both parties engaged in thoughtful negotiations over many months to create an agreement with cost-effective remedies that would ensure Ferguson brings policing and court practices in line with the Constitution," said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "The agreement already negotiated by the department and the city will provide Ferguson residents with a police department and municipal court that fully respects civil rights and operates free from racial discrimination."

Gupta said the department will take any legal steps necessary to make sure Ferguson's police and court system comply with federal law.