On Ensuring Constitutional Policing in the U.S.: Statement to the PC

United States nameplate in the Hofburg Congress Center's Neuer Saal, the location of many OSCE Permanent Council Meetings, Vienna, March 9, 2016. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

In December, I last reported to the Permanent Council on the issue of allegations of police misconduct in the United States and efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that policing is conducted in accordance with the Constitution. I also committed to report again to the Permanent Council on this topic as additional information becomes available.

I am pleased to inform the Permanent Council that on March 17, the Justice Department and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, jointly filed an agreement resolving the United States’ pending lawsuit against Ferguson. This court-enforceable decree aims to remedy the unconstitutional law enforcement conduct that the Justice Department found during its investigation into the Ferguson Police Department and the Ferguson Municipal Court.

Under the agreement, the city of Ferguson will implement reforms to bring about constitutional and effective policing, promote officer and public safety, ensure fundamental fairness and equal treatment regardless of race, and foster greater trust between police officers and the communities they serve. The agreement, which is publicly available online, covers issues related to community policing and engagement, bias-free police and court practices, the use of force, accountability, and civilian oversight. An independent monitor to be selected by the Justice Department and the city of Ferguson will assess implementation of the consent decree, provide technical assistance to Ferguson, and report on Ferguson’s implementation of reforms through periodic public reports. Court approval of the decree is pending.

Every American deserves law enforcement that is fair, effective, responsive, respectful, and constitutional. A report issued on April 13 by the city of Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force demonstrates there is more to be done to accomplish this goal. The United States is committed to upholding the highest standards of law enforcement and our shared OSCE commitments.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna