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Last Hearing Set in Ferguson Settlement

After months of negotiations and some late push and pull over the cost, the last public hearing is set for Tuesday on the U.S. Department of Justice’s settlement with Ferguson.

The settlement calls for sweeping changes in the St. Louis suburb where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police.

The hearing is not required by law but was requested by both the Justice Department and Ferguson leaders.

Overall, the agreement calls for the hiring of a monitor, diversity training for police, the purchase of software and hiring of staff to analyze records on arrests, use of force and other police matters and outfitting all officers and jail workers with body cameras.

It follows the fatal shooting of Brown, who was Black and unarmed, during a street confrontation with white officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown’s death was a catalyst in the national Black Lives Matter movement.

A grand jury and the Justice Department cleared Wilson, who resigned from the police force in November 2014, but the shooting led to a Justice Department investigation. That inquiry found alarming patterns of racial bias in policing and a municipal court system that generated revenue largely on the backs of poor and minority residents. The Justice Department’s critical report in March 2015 prompted the resignations of Ferguson’s city manager, police chief and municipal judge. All three were white men who have since been replaced by Black men.

Ferguson leaders and Justice Department officials spent months negotiating the settlement. But in February, after a series of public hearings, the City Council rejected it, mostly over concerns the cost could bankrupt the town. The Justice Department sued the next day. In March, after receiving some assurance that the cost wouldn’t be as high as feared, the City Council approved the deal, expected to cost about $2.3 million over three years.

Among the comments submitted to Perry, resident Keith Rose suggested changes to allow for more civilian oversight and greater transparency and accountability.