US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the DJ will use “all the power” it has to implement reforms at the Ferguson Police Department, even if that involves dismantling the entire department, Reuters reported.
Holder initially stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) was
determined to “ensure the situtation changes”
in Ferguson. “That means everything from
working with them to coming up with an entirely new
structure,” he added, according to a transcript released by
Buzzfeed’s Jon Passantino.
When he was asked if
taking apart the force entirely was on the table, he
replied, “If that’s
what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.”
The attorney general’s comment comes the same week that the
Justice Department issued a scathing report detailing systematic
racial discrimination and a “highly toxic environment”
at the Ferguson Police Department. The report found that police
officers used excessive force primarily against African Americans
and that they often detained and arrested individuals without
Regarding the report’s findings, Holder said he was
“shocked” as investigators uncovered just how deep the
police department’s unlawful behavior went.
“The notion that you would use a law enforcement agency or
law enforcement generally to generate revenue, and then the
callous way in which that was done and the impact that it had on
the lives of ordinary citizens of that municipality, was just
appalling,” he said.
“That is not something we’re going to tolerate.”
In the past, the Justice Department has helped implement reforms
at police department’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Cleveland,
Ohio. Federal investigations into both police forces found
patterns of excessive force and and systematic failures.
Negotiations between the federal government and Ferguson
officials will begin in the next couple of weeks as the two sides
seek a mutual agreement on what reforms to implement. However, if
the negotiations falter, the Justice Department has the power to
sue and make reforms mandatory.
Referring to other police departments around the US, Holder said
he hopes they are paying attention to the government’s strong
feelings about ensuring “that we use all the tools that we
can to make sure that what happened in Ferguson is uncovered and
simply does not happen in any other part of the
“I also want to make people understand, there are 18,000
police departments in this country, and I think that what we saw
in Ferguson was an anomaly,” he said.
Additionally, Holder said the government will create guidelines
asking municipalities to stop using debtors prisons, which house
those who owe cities money but can’t pay the fines. However, he
said the Justice Department cannot mandate that local governments
follow through on its request.
Meanwhile, two Ferguson police officers – Rick Henke and William
Mudd – resigned after the DOJ uncovered multiple racist emails
drafted at the department, CNN reported. Another individual,
court clerk Mary Ann Twitty, was also fired.