DOJ and Ferguson Reach Agreement on Justice System Reform

By Kenrya Rankin Jan 28, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice and Ferguson, Missouri, officials have reached an agreement that is poised to overhaul the city’s entire justice system.

Yesterday (January 27) marked the end of negotiations sparked by the Justice Department’s 2015 investigation, which concluded that the city’s policing methods violated the rights of its Black citizens on the streets and in the courtrooms, all in the interest of filling the city’s coffers. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the agreement, called a consent decree, will go through three rounds of public hearings before the city council votes on its adoption on February 9. If it rejects the agreement, the Justice Department will move forward with a suit against the city.

Key points of the 131-page agreement include: 

Community policing and engagement

  • Establish series of meetings between officers and community memebrs
  • Create long-term programming that connects police with local students
  • Build a Neighborhood Policing Steering Committee
  • Host community mediation sessions

Policies and training

  • Implement new training procedures, including sections on implicit bias-awareness
  • Train all officers on new policies 
  • Establish a law enforcement training committee, to include community members
  • Hire a training coordinator to track implementation 

Eliminating bias

  • Consider indicators of bias when making hiring and promotion decisions 
  • Improve accuracy of process to collect racial profiling data
  • Implement agreement with goal of equal protection of the law for all
  • Revise policy and training for domestic violence and sexual assault response

Stop and search procedure

  • No city or law enforcement officer can propose or pass laws aimed at generating revenue
  • No stops for purpose of checking for warrants
  • Explicitly inform citizens of their rights during a stop
  • Provide a business card every time officers make a stop
  • Record citizens providing consent for searches
  • Eliminate ticket and arrest quotas
  • Recruit a diverse policing force

First Amendment activity

  • Don’t prohibit citizens from recording them in public spaces and private homes or businesses
  • Don’t punish protestors
  • Don’t penalize people who criticize police conduct
  • Revise protocol for handling public protest
  • Create complaint process


  • Use de-escalation tactics
  • Provide immediate emergency assistance when force is necessary
  • Discipline officers who use unnecessary force

Municipal code reform

  • Revise code to comply with Constitution
  • Repeal jaywalking laws
  • Do no attempt to re-implement provisions that prescribed jail time for unpaid tickets 

The city will also have to hire an independent monitor to review and report on how effectively it is implementing the agreement.