MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A Justice Department review has found that police and local courts in Ferguson, Mo., routinely violate the Constitution and federal laws. Federal civil rights investigators cite a pattern of racial bias. This is a preview of a complete report that will be out tomorrow. The investigation followed last summer's shooting of 18-year-old African American Michael Brown by a white police officer, Darren Wilson.
And NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson joins us now to talk about this report. Carrie, you have confirmed that Justice Department prosecutors did not find enough evidence to bring federal civil rights charges against Officer Wilson, but they did find evidence of other widespread wrongdoing in the Ferguson Police Department.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Melissa, law enforcement sources tell me not to expect any charges against Officer Darren Wilson, but federal civil rights investigators at the Justice Department conducted interviews with city officials, community members, reviewed police records, data on traffic stops and tickets. And that review, Melissa, has resulted in a conclusion that Ferguson Police Department and the municipal court engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination. The picture is not pretty. Some numbers here - blacks make up 67 percent of the population in Ferguson, but they're 85 percent of the people who are stopped and 93 percent of those arrested in traffic stops.
And they also disproportionally face charges for jaywalking, disturbing the peace, failing to obey police - Melissa, same with use of force by police. Justice Department investigators finding all 14 episodes where police dogs bit people, African Americans were involved.
BLOCK: And the Justice Department, you mentioned, also has found fault with the Ferguson Municipal Court. What are the specific problems there?
JOHNSON: According to law enforcement sources, Justice found the court system also demonstrates a pattern or practice of discrimination. Blacks are 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed. And here's some more data. From October 2012 to October 2014, 96 percent of people arrested in traffic stops solely for having outstanding court warrants were African American people.
BLOCK: Carrie, you've been reporting that some racist e-mails have surfaced in the course of this investigation between policy - police and court officials in Ferguson. What can you tell us about those?
JOHNSON: This is some new information. A law enforcement source described two e-mails to me that we don't have the names of the senders or the recipients, Melissa. One e-mail says, President Obama will not remain in the White House for long because, quote, "what black man holds a steady job for four years?" Another e-mail, Melissa, supposed to be a joke, I guess, describes a black woman going into the hospital to end her pregnancy. A couple of weeks later she gets a check. She asks why - the punchline of the joke is, the money is from the crime stoppers program. In other words, evidence of a state of mind - a culture in Ferguson the Justice Department believes that justice is trying to change.
BLOCK: So if they're going to do that - if they're going to change that culture - that embedded culture in Ferguson, what can they do about that?
JOHNSON: The full report of their findings is likely to emerge tomorrow. Justice wants to restore trust in law enforcement, institute changes in hiring, training, requiring the police and the courts to keep more data. And this would happen, Melissa, either through a settlement or a lawsuit. But the ball is going to be in Ferguson's court. It's relatively rare for a city or state to fight DOJ in these cases. There have been about 20 of these investigations in the course of the Obama administration. But of course, policing is local, and the federal government can't be everywhere. That's why a culture shift is so important as the president called for yesterday when his policing task force issued their report.
BLOCK: OK, NPR's justice correspondent, Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thanks so much.
JOHNSON: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.