Attorney General Eric Holder announced a DOJ civil rights investigation of the Ferguson police department.
This was after Holder visited the community in August after the shooting of robber Michael Brown.
Here are Attorney General Eric Holder’s remarks on Ferguson:
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Good afternoon. I am joined today by (Acting) Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Molly Moran and Director Ron Davis, of the Community Oriented Policing Services – or COPS – Office. We are here to announce the latest steps in the Justice Department’s ongoing effort to address the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and the surrounding communities.
As you know, our federal civil rights investigation into the August 9 shooting death of Michael Brown remains open and very active. As I made clear during my visit to Ferguson two weeks ago, this investigation will take time. But the American people can have confidence that it will be fair, it will be thorough, and it will be independent.
Over the course of that visit, I had the chance to speak with a number of local residents. I heard from them directly about the deep mistrust that has taken hold between law enforcement officials and members of the community. In meetings and listening sessions – as well as informal conversations – people consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents, from general policing practices, and from the lack of diversity on Ferguson’s police force.
These anecdotal accounts underscored the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson that has received a good deal of attention. As a result of this history – and following an extensive review of documented allegations and other available data – we have determined that there is cause for the Justice Department to open an investigation to determine whether Ferguson Police officials have engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.
This investigation will be carried out by a team from the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section – some of the same dedicated professionals who have achieved historic results in ensuring constitutional policing from coast to coast. Over the past five years, the Civil Rights Division has prosecuted over 300 individual officers for misconduct. We have opened 20 pattern or practice investigations into police departments across the country. That’s more than twice as many as were opened in the previous five years. And we’re enforcing 14 agreements to reform law enforcement practices at agencies both large and small. With these agreements, we have seen dramatic decreases in excessive uses of force; greater equity in the delivery of police services, including important measures to address bias; and, most significantly, increased confidence by communities in their law enforcement agencies.
As the brother of a retired police officer, I know that the overwhelming majority of our brave men and women in uniform do their jobs honorably, with integrity, and often at great personal risk. The Civil Rights Division’s efforts are simply meant to ensure that law enforcement officers in every part of the U.S. live up to those same high standards of professionalism. In Ferguson, our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that are brought to light.
We have met with the Mayor, City Manager and Police Chief in Ferguson. They have welcomed the investigation and pledged complete cooperation. This investigation will be conducted both rigorously and in a timely manner, so we can move forward as expeditiously as possible to restore trust, rebuild understanding, and foster cooperation between law enforcement and community members. At the same time, I want to make very clear that – as this investigation unfolds and evolves – we will follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead. And if, at any point, we find reason to expand our inquiry to include additional police forces in neighboring jurisdictions, we will not hesitate to do so.