Ferguson has been one of about two dozen law enforcement agencies under investigation by the Justice Department, reports the Los Angeles Times. Police departments in Cleveland, Albuquerque and Newark, N.J., were the subject of scathing federal investigations last year. The number of departments under DOJ investigation has increased under the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder. Nineteen departments have been placed under some form of federal monitoring since 2000, said a 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum.
In 2012 alone, five major city police departments were placed under some form of federal monitoring. Ferguson officials will now probably enter negotiations with the federal government to determine what reforms and monitoring will be put in place. The Justice Department can sue the city to force reform if the two sides fail to come to an agreement, said criminologist Samuel Walker of the University of Nebraska. Walker said Ferguson police would probably receive some kind of court-appointed watchdog. “A monitor is essential and has been included in all the other Justice Department settlements,” he said. “You’ve got to have someone independent who reports to the judge, and those reports are public … It provides a picture of what progress they are making.”