ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The city of Ferguson tells a federal judge it’s making progress enacting reforms promised 21 months ago in response to the Michael Brown shooting.
The report card was generally good, with progress cited in Ferguson’s police department and municipal court system.
But Ferguson also admits it’s having trouble achieving some goals on time, like making the city’s webpage more user-friendly, clearing a backlog of thousands of municipal court cases, and getting police policies in line with the Consent Decree.
Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss attended the hearing, but did not speak in court. Afterwards, he told KMOX he believes the police department is more sensitive to African-Americans.
“As an African-American man, I have a specific interest in making sure African-American men and women are treated fairly,” Moss said. “And I think the Ferguson Police Department has taken significant strides in making sure that is the case.”
The city of Ferguson is still drafting a report on the use of police force. Community input will be sought at some point.
For now, Moss says officers are more carefully screened before they’re hired, receive more training to avoid biased policing, and he makes his own views on deadly force clear.
“In a number of cases around the country, there are shootings that have been perfectly lawful, but awful,” Moss said. “As a matter of fact, there was a discussion today with my commander where we were talking about instances in our careers where we would’ve been justified to shoot, but we didn’t, because it wasn’t the last resort, it wasn’t the necessary thing to do.”
An attorney for the federal government told the judge that Ferguson’s municipal court system is now emphasizing code enforcement for public safety — not for generating revenue through fines.
The city has also hired a new municipal court judge and prosecutor who report to the city manager. Before the reforms, the Ferguson court system reported to the city’s finance manager and police chief.