Ferguson, Missouri to swear in black police chief

Reuters News
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Posted: May 09, 2016 12:00 PM

By Sue Britt

FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) - Ferguson, Missouri, the site of violent protests after a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in 2014, will swear in an African American police chief on Monday.

The swearing-in of Delrish Moss, a 51-year-old veteran of the Miami Police Department, comes less than three weeks after a federal judge approved an agreement to reform Ferguson's police department and municipal law code. The reforms are intended to fix what the U.S. Justice Department has called widespread racial bias in the city's police department.

The racial composition of the police in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb of 21,000, has been a source of controversy since most officers are white, while two-thirds of the town's residents are black.

The Justice Department initiated a civil rights investigation into Ferguson's policing after Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a white officer in 2014.

Moss, who in his 32 years in Miami worked patrol, undercover assignments and homicide investigations, previously said Ferguson's police department needed a massive recruiting drive to become more reflective of the community. Moss most recently was supervisor of Miami Police Department's public information and community relations.

He is at least Ferguson's third police chief since Brown's death. Ferguson erupted into violent protests after a grand jury chose not to indict the white officer, Darren Wilson.

Thomas Jackson, chief at the time of Brown's death, resigned in March 2015 after being criticized for the handling of the resulting protests. Interim Chief Andre Anderson, the city's first black chief of police, resigned in December.

Brown's death was one of several killings of unarmed black men that started a nationwide debate about the use of excessive force by police, especially against minorities.

The Justice Department found Ferguson police disproportionately arrested and issued traffic citations to blacks to boost city coffers through fines, used police as a collection agency and created a culture of distrust that exploded when Brown was fatally shot by police.

The reform agreement requires that Ferguson provide its officers with bias-awareness training and implement an accountability system, city officials have said. The city also agreed police must ensure that stop, search and arrest practices are not discriminatory under law.

(Reporting by Sue Britt; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)