The Missouri congressman who represents the city of Ferguson said the U.S. Justice Department should break up the local police department in the wake of Michael Brown’s death
Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., told Reuters in an interview last Thursday that the shooting of Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by white police officer Darren Wilson, is an example of the nearly all-white department’s “oppressive” treatment of blacks.
“I would hope that the Ferguson Police Department would be dissolved and the duties and responsibilities of policing Ferguson would be turned over to the St. Louis County police,” Clay said in the interview.
A grand jury last month declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Brown. Wilson has since resigned and the Justice Department’s investigation into Brown’s death and the Ferguson police is ongoing. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, put the state highway patrol in charge of local law enforcement in Ferguson after protests erupted following Brown’s death. The St. Louis county and city police are working in tandem with the highway patrol.
Clay said the St. Louis County police force is trying to become more diverse and has “a little more professionalism, as well as training necessary to police diverse communities.”
Blacks make up 67% of Ferguson’s population, but the police department only has three black officers in its 53-member force.
Clay urged the Justice Department to conduct its own review of the Ferguson events. He has also been concerned about military style equipment used by Ferguson and other police departments, and supports President Obama’s recently announced task force that will study “best practices” of police.