In its six-month civil rights probe the Justice Department found that the nearly all-white Ferguson Police Department routinely violated the constitutional rights (namely the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments) of the city's black residents.They were targeted them at disproportionately high rates and often without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The scathing 100-page report, released Wednesday, charts the frequency of illegal policing tactics in Ferguson, which it suggests are largely driven by a toxic combination of systemic, systemic racial bias and pressure to generate revenue for the city through fines. These include an undue focus on minor infractions like "Failure to Comply" and "Manner of Walking on Roadway."
From the report:
"Ferguson's law enforcement practices are shaped by the City's focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson's police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing , and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community ...
"Partly as a consequence of City and FPD priorities, many officers appear to see some residents, especially those who live in Ferguson's predominantly African-American neighborhoods, less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue."
Ferguson collected $2.6 million in court fines and fees last year, its second largest source of income — about 21 percent of its total budget.