Justice Department issues Ferguson report

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Justice Department released a 188-page after-action report on law enforcement response to last year's protests in Ferguson. 

The report offers advice on what Ferguson Police did wrong and how law enforcement should handle riots.

Jerome Logan watched the protests on TV, and said he thinks the police went overboard.

"They did what they thought they was doing the right thing," Logan said. "You put a crowd of people at a certain place and all it takes is one person to get things going the wrong direction."

The report points out numerous areas authorities went wrong. Some of the topics include inconsistent leadership, failure to understand endemic problems in the community, a reactive rather than proactive strategy, inadequate communication and information sharing, lack of law enforcement response continuity, and police-community relationships.

In response to the release of Thursday's report, The Missouri State Highway Patrol released the following statement:

"As has been seen in communities across the country, balancing how law enforcement protects the exercise of free speech and assembly while also preventing property destruction and violence are crucial issues that are not unique to any one community.

The many adaptations made by law enforcement in Ferguson during the 17-day incident period, including their work to engage residents and respond to community concerns, were important factors in preventing the loss of life or serious injuries.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is particularly indebted to the hundreds of individual Patrol members from across the state who willingly and tirelessly responded to the Ferguson area despite the threats and stress that came with their dedicated service there. These men and women, along with their families, are to be commended for their resilience and many sacrifices.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has already implemented lessons learned from its own review of events in Ferguson, which has included listening to the concerns of members of the public. The Patrol is committed to continuing the process of strengthening trust and improving law enforcement-community relations."

The Jefferson City Police Department also prioritizes leadership and law enforcement-community relations.

"I think leadership is important at every stage of police work," Shoemaker said. "Whether it's an implied leadership or an actual present physical leadership."

The department helped assist a march from Ferguson to Jefferson City in December 2014 and that did not catch any national attention.

"We were very successful in that endeavor and and it didn't make national news because it wasn't negative," Shoemaker said.

The report said it found "more than 100 lessons learned, which I believe will be of great benefit to the law enforcement field going forward."

Below is a closer look at what the report said about the six themes that emerged from the assessment:

 

"1. Inconsistent leadership. Inconsistency in direction,
incident management, and tactical orders was apparent
and particularly evident in the comments of frontline
officers and supervisors.


2. Failure to understand endemic problems in the
community. There was insufficient understanding
of community concerns, and relationships between
law enforcement and some community segments
were lacking.


3. A reactive rather than proactive strategy. The
police response to the mass demonstrations was generally
reactive and did not appear to establish a strategic
approach to effectively mitigate the complexity of issues
and respond more effectively to the mass gatherings.


4. Inadequate communication and information sharing.
There was a lack of effective communication and
information management. Communication gaps led to
tactical and strategic uncertainty within law enforcement
agencies, between law enforcement agencies, and
with the community.


5. Use of ineffective and inappropriate strategies
and tactics. There were instances where specific
actions were taken that infringed upon constitutionally-protected
activities and were not aligned with current
national best practices. These strategies and tactics had
the unintended consequence of escalating rather than
diminishing tensions.


6. Lack of law enforcement response continuity.
Complicating factors were presented by the response
of smaller municipal law enforcement agencies in the
region, each with disparate missions, policies, training,
equipment, and policing cultures."

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