ST. LOUIS (AP) – Ferguson, Missouri, is making “meaningful progress” in enacting policing and court reforms agreed upon with the U.S. government after Michael Brown’s 2014 police shooting death, a Justice Department attorney said during a status hearing on the consent decree.
Jude Volek told U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry during a hearing Tuesday in St. Louis that he’s encouraged with the changes in the St. Louis suburb’s courts, KWMU Radio reported.
Ferguson officials have missed deadlines in the consent decree reached with the Justice Department in April of last year.
Brown was black, 18 and unarmed when he was killed by white officer Darren Wilson during a confrontation. Wilson was later cleared by a St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department, but Brown’s death resulted in an examination of Ferguson’s criminal justice system, which federal investigators found to be racially biased.
Both sides acknowledged to Perry that they aren’t as far along as they should be in enacting Ferguson reforms under the decree. An attorney for the suburb, Apollo Carey, said that adopting the changes has been challenging and slow, but “we are trying to do it the right way.”
“We believe that this cause of action is the right one,” Carey said. “Rather than being judged by the letter of the deadline, we hope that we are judged on the quality of those policies.”
The decree called for a Civilian Review Board that will examine alleged police misconduct to be “established and operational” by Jan. 15. Though Ferguson’s City Council adopted the legislation in December, the board did not have its first meeting until earlier this month and is not yet able to accept complaints from citizens.
But attorneys on both sides on Tuesday called the board’s establishment a significant milestone.
Perry did not ask about the missed deadlines or mention them in her remarks.
She scheduled the next hearing for June 22, when Perry will allow public comments.
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