[JURIST] A Ferguson, Missouri, reform panel on Monday released a report[text, PDF] calling for the consolidation of police departments and municipal courts. The 16-member Ferguson Commission [official website], established by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an African American teenager, by a white police officer, is supported by Nixon but lacks power to enact its proposals. The 198-page report, titled “Forward through Ferguson, a Path toward Racial Equity,” calls for reform [St. Louis Post-Dispatch report] in numerous areas, including criminal justice, housing, education and economics. Its proposals include establishing a statewide, publicly available use-of-force database to track police shootings, ending predatory lending and establishing healing centers to address behavioral and health issues in schools.
Police use of force has been a controversial issue across the US recently. Earlier this month Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected motions [JURIST report] to drop charges against six police officers implicated in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody and later died in April. Earlier this year Judge Edgar Dickson of the South Carolina Circuit Court declared a mistrial [JURIST report] in the murder case against a former police chief for the 2011 killing of an unarmed black man. After a grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Micheal Brown [USA Today Timeline], there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case had reached international news with Amnesty International reporting [JURIST report] human rights abuses by Ferguson Police in late October. In early October a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the police tactics used on protesters was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] also published a report [JURIST report] arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.