New York, NY, March 5, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded the Justice Department’s investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department and expressed deep concerns about the racial bias and pattern and practice of civil rights violations the report revealed.
The League offered its full support to the Justice Department and to city and county officials on steps forward to address these discriminatory practices.
Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair, and Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:
The Department of Justice’s findings reveal a deeply disturbing, corrosive pattern and practice of racism, discrimination, and civil rights violations by the Ferguson Police Department – including disproportionate traffic stops, searches, intimidation tactics, use of force, and arrests of African Americans. Racial bias has no place in our society, much less in law enforcement entities or courts, which must be neutral and just. The depth and breadth of DOJ’s well-documented findings are shocking – and underscore the need to overhaul training and education practices and take immediate steps to eradicate bias.
We applaud DOJ’s extraordinary diligence in investigating and reporting its findings – and pledge our full support to promote the necessary changes and important steps forward for our community. Along with our partners in the community, we stand ready to help address, remedy, and prevent the issues raised by the federal investigation.
Public safety always requires trust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect. If police are perceived as treating any segment of the population unfairly, trust in law enforcement is eroded and the ability of the police to do its work is impaired. Mistrust results in unwillingness to cooperate in investigations, to report crime, or to turn to police for protection. Together, we must ensure that our criminal justice system is built on fairness and constitutionality. We pledge to continue to work toward making that essential fairness a reality.
Following the two grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island, New York not to indict police officers who were involved in the killing of unarmed black men, and the ensuing public protests, President Obama established a Task Force on 21st Century Policing charged with identifying ways to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect while also promoting effective crime reduction. ADL provided a statement to the Task Force and David C. Friedman, ADL Director of Law Enforcement Initiatives, testified at a public hearing in Phoenix, Arizona on the topic of training models and best practices, arguing that “education and training that strengthens the understanding of law enforcement values and connection to the people they serve must be given the highest priority.”