Ferguson, Mo., has paid nearly a half-million dollars to the monitor team overseeing its police and court reforms, but city leaders question what they’ve gotten for their money, especially after the departure of the original lead monitor, the Associated Press reports. Washington attorney Clark Kent Ervin resigned in September after serving a little over a year overseeing the consent agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014. Boston attorney Natashia Tidwell.
The money spent on monitoring is costly in Ferguson, paid for entirely with city funds. The community of 20,000 is much smaller, with far less money, than most cities subject to Justice Department consent agreements. Money is so tight that Ferguson voters twice in 2016 approved tax increases to keep the budget balanced. Mayor James Knowles III said Ervin failed to follow through on some projects, including opening an office in Ferguson and surveying residents. City Attorney Apollo Carey said his departure slowed a court audit and other reforms. “It begs the question: What are residents getting out of (monitoring)?” Knowles said. “They’re supposed to be getting transparency. They’re supposed to be getting regular updates and engagement from the monitor. They haven’t gotten any of it.” Ferguson fell under Justice Department scrutiny after Brown was killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson during an Aug. 9, 2014, confrontation on a neighborhood street. A St. Louis County grand jury and the Justice Department declined to charge Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.