Officials: US report finds racial bias in Ferguson police

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Washington, Mar 4: A US Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson, Missouri, police department with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the report.

The report, which could be released as soon as Wednesday, marks the culmination of a months-long investigation into a police department that federal officials have described as troubled and that commanded widespread attention after one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, last summer.

Ferguson

The white police officer who shot him was not indicted by a grand jury, a decision that prompted violent street protests. It chronicles discriminatory practices across the city's criminal justice system, detailing problems from initial encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail.

The full report could serve as a road map for significant changes by the department, if city officials accept its findings. The Justice Department maintains the right to sue police departments that resist making changes.

The Justice Department investigation found that black motorists from 2012 to 2014 were more than twice as likely to be stopped and searched as whites, even though they were less likely to be found carrying contraband, according to a summary of the findings.

The review also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge. And from April to September of last year, 95 per cent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, it found.

Of the cases in which the police department documented the use of force, 88 per cent involved blacks. Overall, African Americans make up 67 percent of Ferguson's population. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the report is made public.

The city of Ferguson released a statement acknowledging that Justice Department officials supplied a copy of the report to the mayor, city manager, police chief and city attorney during a private meeting yesterday in downtown St Louis. The statement offered no details about the report, which the city said it was reviewing and would discuss today after the Justice Department makes it public. 

AP

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