Washington: The US Justice Department is planning a thorough probe of the police department in Ferguson, the small black-dominated Missouri town where a white policeman shot dead an unarmed black teenager and caused riots that shook the nation.
The small town of 22,000, nearly 70 percent of them black, but with all but three of its 53 strong police force white, erupted into violent protests and looting with some Indian-American run stores among those targeted after the shooting of teenager Michael Brown.
The civil rights division of the Justice Department is preparing to launch a new investigation into police in the St. Louis suburb, CNN reported on Wednesday citing a Missouri official and a federal official. The review will examine previous incidents and complaints involving police, as well as its training, to examine how the department operates, according to the Missouri official.
It will look at whether the practises of Ferguson police violate federal law or the US Constitution, the channel said.
Justice Department representatives met with Ferguson officials in Missouri and informed them of the intent to launch the preliminary probe, a Missouri official told CNN.
It is distinct from the Justice Department`s previously announced civil rights probe that is specific to the August 9 shooting of Brown by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.
Proving a civil rights violation would require showing that Wilson was actively hostile to Brown because of his race, CNN said.
The shooting and the fact authorities didn`t immediately, and still haven`t, charged Wilson spurred emotional and, at times, violent protests on the streets of Ferguson, it said
Brown`s shooting also stirred up locals` gripes about Ferguson police over the years, CNN said.
Some of them claimed members of the predominantly white police force would routinely and inordinately single out blacks, it said.
The channel cited many African-Americans as saying that they often found themselves subject to racial profiling-such as being pulled over for no obvious reason besides, they presumed, "DWB," or driving while black.
Ferguson will be the latest of many local police and sheriff departments nationwide to be subject to such a federal investigation launched "when there are persistent allegations of misconduct", CNN said.