Under the agreement, within 180 days, all patrol officers, supervisors and jail workers will be required to wear body cameras and microphones, and the equipment will be installed inside squad cars. The cameras are to be activated for all traffic stops, arrests, searches and encounters with people believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis.
The city also agrees to revise its municipal code, including by repealing sections that authorized jail for people who fail to pay fines for violations.
Ferguson spokesman Jeff Small said the city has not calculated its total financial obligations but called them “significant.” Ferguson voters will consider two ballot measures in April that would increase property and sales taxes — without which the city expects to resort to layoffs to help plug a $2.8 million budget shortfall.
“It's going to depend on the public,” Small said about the proposal's expected chances of approval by elected leaders. “We're not just going to negotiate and say, ‘Boom. This is what you have to live with as a community.’”
A federal investigation into the Ferguson police force after Brown's death found sweeping patterns of racial bias across the city's criminal justice system. A Justice Department report in March found that officers routinely used excessive force, issued petty citations and made baseless traffic stops. It also found that the police force and the court system lean heavily on fines for petty municipal violations as a source of revenue for the city government.
The federal inquiry came amid heightened national scrutiny over deadly police shootings in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York and elsewhere. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the death of Brown, who was black.
The Justice Department also cleared Wilson, concluding that evidence backed his claim that he shot Brown in self-defense after Brown tried to grab his gun during a struggle through the window of Wilson's police vehicle, then came toward him threateningly after briefly running away.
The document released Wednesday paves the way for an overhaul of the police force, requiring changes in how officers conduct searches, make arrests and interact with citizens. Some requirements appear aimed at correcting problems identified in the scathing federal report last year.