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World

Monitor Chosen to Oversee Ferguson Police, Court Reforms

Ferguson came under the national spotlight after the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old

In this Aug. 10, 2015, file photo, officers and protesters face off along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Missouri, a year after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old who was unarmed, photo: AP/Jeff Roberson
1 year ago

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge on Monday chose a monitor team to oversee reforms of Ferguson’s policing and court system, a process expected to cost the St. Louis suburb more than $1 million.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry announced that Squire Patton Boggs, a law firm based in Cleveland, was picked from four finalists to make sure reforms are adequate in Ferguson. City officials say the cost of the monitoring will not exceed $1.25 million over five years, or $350,000 for any single year.

The team will be led by Clark Ervin, who was inspector general for the U.S. State Department and Homeland Security before becoming a partner at Squire Patton Boggs.

“We are honored to take on this important assignment at such a critical time in our nation,” Ervin said in a statement.

A consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, approved by Perry in April, calls for diversity training for police, outfitting officers and jail workers with body cameras, and other reforms.

“I’m excited that both the City of Ferguson and the Department of Justice have worked together to complete the process of choosing an Independent Monitor,” Ferguson City Manager De’Carlon Seewood said in a statement. “This is a true testament that the collaboration between both parties had a mission and that is to do what’s best for the Ferguson community and its police department.”

Ferguson’s justice system came under scrutiny after the fatal 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old. A county grand jury and the Department of Justice cleared Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson officer who killed Brown. But the Justice Department found patterns of racial bias in Ferguson’s policing and a municipal court system that generated revenue largely on the backs of poor and minority residents.

Ferguson requested applications from prospective monitor teams on May 12 and received nine proposals. Justice Department officials along with city leaders that included Seewood and Police Chief Delrish Moss narrowed the list to four. After interviews and a community forum earlier this month, Ferguson and the Justice Department agreed on Squire Patton Boggs, city officials said.

Mayor James Knowles III said that while “great strides” have been made, the goal is to work with the Justice Department and the monitor team to continue to improve police practices in the Missouri city.

Perry scheduled a hearing Sept. 7 for an update on progress being made under the monitor.

 

JIM  SALTER

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