Months of investigation by the Department of Justice into the Ferguson police department is expected to end as early as this week with the release of a report finding the department discriminates against African-American residents. Described by The New York Times as “highly critical,” the report concludes that the city of Ferguson disproportionately tickets, arrests and fines African-Americans, which in turn, balances the city budget. Ferguson is about 70 percent African-American; its police department is about 95 percent white, as is city leadership. If released this week, the DOJ’s “pattern or practice” investigation findings will echo those of a 2013 report by Missouri’s attorney general as well as a 2014 one by local indigent defense group, ArchCity Defenders. Perhaps this third report, and the threat of settling or being sued on federal civil rights charges, will be the charm that brings reform to Ferguson.
Also expected to be released this week is the DOJ’s separate investigation into police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown last August and set off months of local and national protests. Early coverage of the report back in January reported that no federal civil rights charges would be brought.