Ferguson panel recommends police, court reform, transparency

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A reform panel formed after the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown is recommending the consolidation of the metro area's police departments and municipal courts, a newspaper reported Monday.

Gov. Jay Nixon and others have scheduled an afternoon news conference to release details of the Ferguson Commission report that has been 10 months in the making. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch received a copy of the commission's 198-page report ahead of its official release.

"The law says all citizens are equal," the report's introduction states. "But the data says not everyone is treated that way."

The events in Ferguson raised concerns about police departments and municipal courts in that north St. Louis County town, but also elsewhere in the region. The departments and courts have been accused of targeting minorities to raise revenue, leading to the mistrust that was a key component of the unrest following Brown's death.

In addition to court and police department consolidation, the commission recommends changes in several other areas to address social and economic divisions highlighted since the shooting. The 16-person commission suggested establishing a statewide, publicly accessible database to track police shootings and developing a statewide plan to deal with mass demonstrations that focuses on preserving life.

It recommends establishing school-based healing centers to address behavioral and health issues.

The commission was established in November during the unrest that followed the fatal shooting in August of Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed, by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who is white, but the shooting spurred a national "Black Lives Matter" movement and led to protests and rioting in and around Ferguson.

The commission put forth 189 "calls to action," including many previously made publicly available.

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