By Charles F. Coleman Jr., theRoot.com

The Department of Justice’s investigation into law-enforcement practices in Ferguson, Mo., is nearly complete, and the full findings could be released to the public as early as this week… Information that has leaked out… appears to confirm allegations of long-standing abuses by Ferguson police against the town’s residents. Specifically, the DOJ reportedly found evidence of excessive use of force, rampant racial profiling, as well as an undercurrent of racism that extended beyond the police force and to the local court system.

…The findings serve as validation for what many have been saying for decades. The frustrations we saw displayed by Ferguson residents were not simply about Michael Brown’s death, but also about decades of oppression and abuse at the hands of Ferguson police.

Ferguson police officers at an August 2014 rally.

Ferguson police officers at an August 2014 rally.

The DOJ reportedly found that Ferguson police officers routinely used excessive force when dealing with black suspects, even where those suspects ultimately were not guilty of any crime. Justice officials also found that black motorists in Ferguson were far more likely to be stopped and searched… The significance of this sort of racial profiling is multidimensional: Where the police made arrests—even for minor traffic violations—blacks were found to have been held in jail for longer periods than whites, and when tickets or summonses were issued that only furthered the vicious cycle of Ferguson’s municipality funding itself on the backs of its poorest citizens.

The DOJ could reach a settlement that would provide various forms of injunctive and possibly monetary relief. This would likely include completely revamped training for officers, a revised system and new measures for department oversight and possibly initiatives to increase the number of black officers on the police force.

The Justice Department could also decide to sue the Ferguson Police Department over its violations. In either case, the DOJ can afford to be fairly aggressive in the relief it demands because of the highly publicized nature of the investigation and the clear and indisputable nature of its findings…

If there is any bright spot to be gathered from this investigation, it is the sense that local police are now being policed…

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