Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Federal Investigators Discuss Ferguson Investigation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Federal Investigators Discuss Ferguson Investigation

Article excerpt

FERGUSON * U.S. Department of Justice officials promised a frustrated group of Ferguson residents Wednesday night that the federal government will take seriously their allegations of racial profiling and brutality at the hands of north St. Louis County law enforcement.

More than 300 people packed into a meeting room at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley for an update on the federal civil rights investigation Attorney General Eric Holder announced this month in the wake of the fatal shooting Aug. 9 of Michael Brown by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

Holder said the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division will investigate whether Ferguson police have engaged in a pattern of civil rights violations.

Christy Lopez, a Justice Department deputy counsel, reiterated that point Wednesday in front of a mostly calm crowd.

The point of the meeting was to give an update on the Justice Department's investigation and give residents a chance to share their stories with federal investigators in one-on-one sessions.

"We are here to address patterns or practices of police misconduct," Lopez said. We're looking at "whether people's constitutional rights are being violated on a regular basis."

Lopez said the Justice Department had already made some progress.

One complaint that has come up frequently is that Ferguson police officers don't regularly wear name tags while on duty a violation of the department's written policy.

"We wrote a letter to the chief yesterday," Lopez said. "The chief assured us that recommendation will be immediately implemented."

The broader federal investigation, she said, will look at arrest reports, use-of-force reports and interviews with the public to determine whether Ferguson and other area departments have a history of violating civil rights. If a problem is found, Lopez said, the investigation will culminate in a public report that will spell out remedies that Ferguson and other area law enforcement agencies can take to fix the problems. …

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