(Jefferson City) (AP) – Two Missouri state senators are calling for the Ferguson Police Department to be dissolved following a scathing federal report that found widespread racial bias among officers.
Democratic Sens. Jamilah Nasheed and Maria Chappelle-Nadal of the St. Louis area on Wednesday said issues with the department run so deep that disbanding it completely is the best option for change.
The U.S. Justice Department report found that police work disproportionately targeted minorities in generating revenue from fines and fees, rather than protecting the community.
The report also said that police officials swapped racist emails.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said later Wednesday that one officer accused of sending racist emails has since been fired, with two others placed on administrative leave. He says the department has implemented other changes since Brown’s death.
Meanwhile, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch says he is not surprised by the Justice Department decision not to prosecute Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
McCulloch was criticized by many after a St. Louis County grand jury announced in November that no state charges would be filed against Wilson, who is no longer an officer in Ferguson.
Asked if he felt vindicated by the Justice Department ruling, McCulloch says no because he knew that the evidence supported the grand jury decision. He says the criticism leveled at him was “unwarranted,” but dealing with it is part of the job.
(Melbourne) – A man from Oxford, AR faces domestic battery and child endangerment charges after an incident last month in Izard County.
41-year-old James Filchak was arrested February 25 and charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, three counts of domestic battery, and resisting arrest.
Izard County deputies were dispatched to an Oxford residence on February 25, where they say the victim reported Filchak had hit her and one of the three children in the home. The victim also reported that Filchak, who she said has been diagnosed with hepatitis “C”, took blood from a small scratch on his arm and attempted to put some of it on one of the children’s mouths.
The victim also reported that Filchak threw a coffee can at one of the children, and hit the child when he missed.
At report time, Filchak was in the Izard County Detention Facility, and was being held on $5,000 bond.
(West Plains) – The Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), hosted by Missouri State University-West Plains, will sponsor an agribusiness marketing forum 8 AM to 3 PM March 18 in the West Plains Civic Center theater, 110 St. Louis St.
SBTDC Coordinator Bronwen Madden spoke with Ozark Radio News and told us more about the forum:
Early bird admission is $20. To register, visit sbtdc.eventbrite.com. For more information about this workshop or any other programs or services offered by SBTDC, contact coordinator Bronwen Madden at 417-255-7966 or WPSBDC@MissouriState.edu.
(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill easing restrictions on the creation of new school districts.
By a 20-6 vote, the Senate approved and sent to the governor’s desk a bill that would lower the amount of students a new district needs to splinter from an existing district. The legislation would lower the requirement from 4,000 students to 2,500.
Supporters of the measure say it would allow Maumelle or Sherwood to split from the Pulaski County Special school district after clearing state and federal hurdles.
Opponents say the change could harm lower-income students and widen racial divides.
(Willow Springs) – The Willow Springs Arts Council is excited to announce a spring concert entitled “Hats Off to Broadway”, which will be held on Sunday, March 15, at 2 PM at the historic Star Theater in Willow Springs.
The program features the Southern Ozarks Community Orchestra performing selections form Broadway shows, including “That’s Entertainment”, “Cabaret”, “Mame”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, and “Mamma Mia”, as well as a Salute to Cinema with “Hooray for Hollywood”, “Singing in the Rain”, “Over the Rainbow”, “As Time Goes By”, “A Day in the Life of a Fool”, and “The Entertainer”.
Tickets will be available at the door. Adult tickets are $7 and there will be no charge for children 12 and under.
The orchestra is sponsored by the Willow Springs Arts Council through grants from the Missouri Arts Council and generous community support. To learn more about the arts council and the orchestra, visit www.willowspringsartscouncil.org, or find the page on Facebook.
(Jefferson City) (AP) – A Missouri Senate panel is considering tightening state law on what justifies the use of deadly force among police, months after a fatal police shooting in Ferguson.
Democratic Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City presented her bill Tuesday to a Senate panel. She did so just hours after the U.S. Justice Department released a report concluding that former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense when he shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last August.
Chappelle-Nadal’s bill would overhaul a law currently allowing deadly force when an officer believes a suspect has attempted to commit a felony, is escaping with a deadly weapon or poses a serious danger to others.
The senator’s bill would require an “objective” reasonable belief and require the felony offense to involve a serious physical injury.
(Ellington) – Whole Kids Outreach is sponsoring their annual Easter Egg Hunt and Spring Festival on Saturday, March 21 from 11 AM to 2 PM.
Events scheduled include a “marshmallow shoot out”, a cake walk, pony rides, and a free lunch. The egg hunt, which is for children up to 11-years-old, will start at 11 AM. Children will need to bring their own Easter basket.
A yard sale benefiting WKO will also be held during the event.
Whole Kids Outreach is located on Hwy. 21, five miles south of Ellington. For more information, please call 573-663-3257 or visit www.wholekidsoutreach.org.
(Mountain Home) – Christopher Dollard, mortgage loan originator at FNBC Bank in Mountain Home, has been promoted to loan officer.
Dollard will continue to build FNBC’s mortgage lending presence in the Baxter County community, and will now also have the ability to assist with customer needs in both consumer and commercial lending.
Originally from Mountainburg, Ark., he joined FNBC Bank in November 2013 from Eaton Corporation, where he was working as a supervisor as part of Eaton’s leadership development program. Prior to working for Eaton, he worked with KBR in Kandahar, Afghanistan as a crew leader.
(Springfield) – If you’re sick of the snow, don’t fret. Warmer temperatures are on the way. KSPR Meteorologist Lindsey Slater has your regional forecast for today:
by Jeff Donn, AP National
(Ferguson) (AP) – The Justice Department has released its investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, concluding that city law enforcement practices are discriminatory and unconstitutional and calling for sweeping changes. Here are some of the highlights of the report:
THE BASIC FINDING: The police and municipal courts in Ferguson have been treating blacks unfairly, violating the law and the U.S. Constitution. Police use force too often.
HOW THE INVESTIGATION WAS DONE: Representatives of the Justice Department interviewed city and court officials, police officers and citizens. Police records were reviewed, along with court and police data. Justice Department representatives rode along with police officers and observed court sessions.
AMONG THE EVIDENCE AGAINST POLICE:
- From 2012 to 2014, 93 percent of all arrests and 85 percent of all vehicle stops involved black people, who constitute two-thirds of the population.
- Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched during vehicle stops, yet contraband was found 26 percent less often on them than on white drivers.
- From 2011 to 2013, blacks were charged with 95 percent of cases involving “manner of walking in roadway” and with 94 percent of “failure to comply.”
- Almost 90 percent of documented force used by officers was used against blacks.
- Police make many arrests for talking back to officers, recording police activities and engaging in lawful protest.
AMONG THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THE CITY COURTS:
- Blacks are 68 percent less likely than others to win dismissal of their cases.
- Blacks represent 92 percent of cases where an arrest warrant was issued in 2013.
- The court often imposes large bail amounts that do not seem justified by public-safety concerns.
- City officials often fix tickets for themselves and their friends.
ALLEGATIONS OF BAD POLICING:
- As a result of a single illegal parking violation in 2007, a black woman spent six days in jail, paid $550 in fines and still owed $541 as of December.
- In 2013, police on their way to arrest someone at an apartment building instead arrested without justification a black man parked outside, handcuffed him and kept him in a patrol car while they ran his record. Faced with a complaint later, a police sergeant described the detention as “minimal” and said the car was air conditioned.
- In 2012, an officer stopped to question a 32-year-old black man sitting in his car with windows that may have been more deeply tinted than allowed under the city code. The officer went on without cause to call the man a pedophile, order him out of his car for a pat-down and ask to search the car. When the man refused, the officer reportedly pointed a gun at his head and arrested him.
- Police broke up a lawful protest on the six-month anniversary of Michael Brown’s death by shouting, “Everybody here’s going to jail.” Two people were arrested simply for recording the police action. Four others were arrested. It appears police were upset about insults written in chalk on the department parking lot and on a police vehicle.
- “Partly as a consequence of City and FPD (Ferguson Police Department) 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.”
- “Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment or housing.”
- “Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement both reflects and reinforces racial bias, including stereotyping.”
- “FPD officers frequently detain people without reasonable suspicion and arrest people without probable cause.”
- “City, police and court officials for years have worked in concert to maximize revenue at every stage of the enforcement process.”
- “Court staff are keenly aware that the City considers revenue generation to be the municipal court’s primary purpose.”
- “Many officers are quick to escalate encounters with subjects they perceive to be disobeying their orders or resisting arrest.”
- “FDP officers’ use of canines to bite people is frequently unreasonable.”
- “Officers often use force in response to behavior that may be annoying or distasteful but does not pose a threat.”
- A November 2008 email said President Obama would not be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years?”
- A May 2011 email said: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, `Crimestoppers.’”
- Shift away from police practices aimed at raising revenue.
- Focus on public safety, rather than stopping people simply because police have authority to do so. End ticketing and arrest quotas.
- Move officers toward de-escalating confrontations.
- The police department should improve race and gender diversity in recruiting, hiring and promotion practices.
- Municipal code violations should result in jail in only the rarest circumstances. Arrest warrants should not be used to collect court fees.