Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ferguson, Justice Department reach agreement on overhaul of policing practices


Ferguson, Justice Department reach agreement on overhaul of policing practices

BY JOSHUA BARAJAS  January 27, 2016 at 6:45 PM EST
A Ferguson Police officer drives past a mural in the St. Louis suburb. The shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, during a protest rally sparked an intense manhunt for suspects on Thursday and ratcheted up tensions in a city at the center of a national debate over race and policing. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters
A Ferguson Police officer drives past a mural in the St. Louis suburb. The city and the Justice Department have agreed on a series of policing protocols, 16 months after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters
The city of Ferguson, Missouri, announced on Wednesday a proposed deal with the Justice Department on sweeping changes to its policing protocols, 16 months after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white officer.

Ferguson officials released the 127-page consent decree following seven months of negotiations with the federal agency. The proposed overhaul includes recommendations for the “training, supervision, and direction necessary to police effectively and in a manner that builds community trust and improves officer safety and morale.”

The agreement calls for the city’s police department to review its use-of-force and training policies under the supervision of an appointed, independent monitor. And, within 180 days, all patrol officers, patrol supervisors, jail personnel, among others, are required to wear body cameras and microphones; the department’s vehicles should be outfitted with the same equipment.

Cameras are required to be activated for “all investigatory stops; all arrests; all searches,” the agreement said. Additionally, the city also agreed to reform its municipal code, including re-evaluating the appropriate penalties for violations.

With the same 180-day time frame, police officers are expected to engage with community groups and members “who previously have not had strong or positive relationships” with the department.

A city council vote is scheduled for Feb. 9, after two weeks for public input. Wednesday’s agreement could mean the city avoids a civil rights lawsuit brought by federal officials.
The Justice Department released a report in March, concluding Ferguson’s police officers routinely engaged in misconduct, racial bias and a disregard for the community. The misconduct included patterns of excessive force and a racial disparity in traffic stops and citations.

Although officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for Brown’s death, the fatal shooting sparked an intense, public scrutiny of Ferguson and other police departments across the country.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

One dead, Bundys arrested after confrontation with FBI on highway

KATU News Reports:
One dead, Bundys arrested after confrontation with FBI on highway

Ammon Bundy speaks at a press conference in Oregon (screen grab)
One person is dead and several others, including Oregon occupation leader Ammon Bundy, were detained following a confrontation with the FBI and state police Tuesday night.
It all began with a traffic stop while Bundy and some of his followers were en route to a community meeting in John Day, about 70 miles away.
Shots were fired after FBI agents, Oregon State troopers and other law enforcement agencies made the stop.
Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne were arrested during the stop.
They're all facing federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede officers of the US from discharging their official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats.
One person, who was the subject of a federal probable cause arrest died. It's unclear who fired first.
The arrests come on the heels of the 25th day of the refuge occupation.
Bundy and about three dozen of other individuals occupied the wildlife refuge earlier this month after two local ranchers, the Hammonds, were sent to prison for setting fires on federal land.
The Hammonds served no more than a year until an appeals court judge ruled that the terms fell short of minimum sentences requiring them to serve about four more years.
Ammon Bundy said he prayed about the matter and "clearly understood that the Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds."
Bundy told KATU News last weekend his group had no intention of using their weapons, "but we have them, and we're willing to stand with them in our own defense as we exercise our rights, and as we restore our rights back to our brothers and sisters."
KATU News spoke with Harney County Judge Steven Grasty last weekend, who expressed his worry regarding the situation.
"Somebody will do something stupid," Grasty said. "If it goes south, it'll go south because Mr. Bundy or his friends started something."
Gov. Kate Brown had repeatedly asked for assistance from federal authorities regarding the occupation.
Several men were arrested for various traffic infractions during the occupation, but none of them were directly related to the refuge occupation.
In March 2014, Cliven Bundy was at the center of an armed standoff with federal officials over grazing rights on government land. Federal officials backed away from seizing the Nevada rancher's cattle, but the dispute remains unresolved, and the Bureau of Land Management says the family has not made payments toward a $1.1 million grazing fee and penalty bill.

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