President Obama Criticizes Ferguson Police for Bias Against Blacks, but Says It’s Not ‘Typical’ of Most Police Departments

President Obama pauses as he listens to a question during a town-hall meeting at Benedict College, Friday, March 6, 2015, in Columbia, S.C., about the importance of community involvement. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
President Obama pauses as he listens to a question during a town-hall meeting at Benedict College, Friday, March 6, 2015, in Columbia, S.C., about the importance of community involvement.
(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

President Obama said Friday that the federal investigation of Ferguson, Mo., revealed a police department “systematically biased against African Americans in that city.”

But he also said he doesn’t believe Ferguson is typical of most police departments.

“The overwhelming number of law enforcement officers have a really hard, dangerous job and they do it well, and they do it fairly, and they do it heroically. I really believe that,” Obama said at a South Carolina college.

Obama’s comments on Ferguson were his most extensive since the Justice Department released its report on the August shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man shot by a white Ferguson police officer.

Attorney General Eric Holder, traveling with the president, told reporters that he’s prepared to seeking the dismantling the Ferguson Police Department if necessary to change the culture of policing in the St. Louis suburb,

“We are prepared to use all the powers that we have, all the power that we have, to ensure that the situation changes there,” he said. “That means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure.”

In the report released Wednesday, federal prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Officer Darren Wilson with a federal crime. But the investigation uncovered disproportionate arrests of minorities and a practice of using criminal fines to raise money for the city’s coffers, which Holder called “appalling.”

“It was available for everyone to read,” Obama said. “What we saw was the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality, saw traffic stops, arrests, tickets as a revenue generator as opposed to serving the community.”

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SOURCE: Gregory Korte
USA TODAY

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