Ferguson, Missouri, council to vote on police reform plan

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2016 10:09 AM

(Reuters) - The Ferguson, Missouri, city council is scheduled on Tuesday to vote on a proposed agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to reform the city's police department after the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer.

Mayor James Knowles III said the vote is scheduled during a council meeting that begins at 7 p.m. CST. He declined to say what outcome he expected.

The fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson exposed tension between the city government and the largely black community. Ferguson, near St. Louis, erupted into violent protests in 2014 after a grand jury chose not to indict the officer.

It was one of a series of killings of black men, mostly by white police officers, that set off a nationwide debate about the use of police force, especially against minorities.

The Justice Department's sharply critical report last year documented discriminatory actions by Ferguson police and the municipal court system, especially against blacks.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the Ferguson Police Department would be required to give officers bias-awareness training and implement an accountability system.

The department would need to ensure that police stop, search and arrest practices do not discriminate on the basis of race or other factors protected under law.

The settlement would also require the city to change its municipal code, including sections that impose prison time for failure to pay certain fines and an ordinance used against individuals who do not comply with police orders.

Last week, residents attended two city council meetings to weigh in on the agreement, and will have another chance to voice their opinion on Tuesday ahead of the vote.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)