JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KPLR) – Two St. Louis area state senators are echoing the justice department report and urging major changes in how Ferguson and other municipalities conduct business. The report, issued on Wednesday, raised questions about how African-Americans are treated by police during traffic stops. It also pointed to Ferguson's reliance on court fines and traffic tickets as the city's second largest source of revenue. Missouri state senator Maria Chappelle Nadal, a Democrat representing Ferguson and University City, complained about racial jokes the report uncovered in police emails. She said "to have authority figures say there is not any racism within the police department is a shock." Senator Chapelle Nadal went on to criticize Ferguson city leaders saying "these are the people who are accountable for the safety of our communities and they are making jokes about African-Americans." State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, a Democrat from St. Louis City, said "right now we have a trust deficit" between the community and police. Both senators are calling for the dismantling of the Ferguson Police Department. They want a police department with a good record of racial harmony to take over policing work in Ferguson. When asked if St. Louis County’s Police Department would be a possible choice Senator Nadal said "No, St. Louis County is just as guilty as Ferguson."
The senators are backing multiple bills designed to improve the issuing of tickets and municipal court procedures. A measure to re-define when police can use deadly force during an encounter with a citizen is one of the more difficult measures. But they said progress is being made to finalize the language in the proposed law.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon reacted strongly to Wednesdays Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department. The governor said "it is deeply disturbing and demonstrates the urgent need for reforms. " Nixon went on to say "discrimination has no place in our justice system or a democratic society."