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US Justice Department: St. Louis County Police Department ‘Dysfunctional’

The St. Louis County Police Department (SLCPD) that faced series of unrests in Ferguson beginning in November 2014 suffers from a wide range of dysfunctional procedures that require 109 recommendations to address, a US Department of Justice report said.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS Office, released 50 findings and 109 recommendations to implement best practices at the SLCPD, it said in a statement on Friday.

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"[T]he assessment identified policy, training and operational deficiencies in addition to a lack of trust between some sections of the community and the department," the statement read.

The Ferguson unrest is a series of protests that erupted following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. The unrest sparked a vigorous debate in the United States about police brutality and the relationship between law enforcement and minorities, particularly African Americans.

© AP Photo / Jeff RobersonSt. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar - Sputnik International
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar

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The report focused on a review of recruitment practices, training, handling mass protests, traffic enforcement stops, use-of-force and community engagement, the statement explained.

"The assessment team found that there are deficiencies in the department's recruitment and hiring practices; the department provides insufficient training hours to community engagement, diversity and community policing during basic recruit and in-service training," the statement said.

The report also found that the SLCPD did not invest sufficient resources in community engagement and problem solving and did not thoroughly investigate the use of deadly force in all situations.

"[T]here are significant statistical racial disparities in stops and searches that warrant further investigation by the department; and the department does not have policies or training to ensured escalation options are exhausted before using tactical responses in mass protests and demonstrations," the statement noted.

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a US federal agency responsible for advancing community policing across the United States.

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