WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will open a broad civil rights investigation into police practices in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager last month and set off days of racially charged unrest, the city’s police chief and other officials said Wednesday.
The inquiry will be in addition to an FBI civil rights investigation that is looking specifically into the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9. The new investigation is expected to be announced soon, according to two federal government officials who were briefed on the plans.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and his aides first discussed such an investigation weeks ago, immediately after the death of Brown, 18, when reports surfaced that the Ferguson police force had previously been accused of abuse.
Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said in an interview Wednesday night that he would welcome the investigation.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to become a professional police department and a professional city,” he said. “We have no intentional policies or procedures which discriminated or violated civil rights. But if we have anything there which may unintentionally do that, we need to know about it.”
Jackson said he met with Justice Department officials Wednesday.
“Obviously, we have gaps. And any help we can get to help fill those gaps and to make ourselves stronger, we welcome” he said.