Police chief in Ferguson, Mo., welcomes reform program

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he invited DOJ reform program.
By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Sept. 4, 2014 at 9:02 PM
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FERGUSON, Mo., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said he welcomes a reform program between the force and the U.S. Department of Justice, but had little to say about the launch of a federal investigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday announced a two-fold plan to evaluate the practices and training of the the St. Louis County Police Department in the wake of the police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

In addition to a formal investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, the department's Community Oriented Policing Services Office will form what it calls a Collaborative Reform Initiative with the police department.

At a Thursday news conference, Belmar said he welcomed the reform initiative.

"I invited this; I wasn't compelled to do it," he said. "It's a collaboration. There is not an over watch. I don't report to anyone."

The COPS office will review the police agency's training, use of force, handling of mass demonstrations, traffic and other stops, searches, arrests, and fair and impartial policing.

"People consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents, from general policing practices, and from the lack of diversity on Ferguson's police force," Holder said Thursday. "If I set the lead for this, it might be a good way to move forward," Belmar said of the program.

Meanwhile, Belmar said the Civil Rights Division investigation was mandated.

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