Printer Friendly

Star For Immediate Release
September 3, 2015

CONTACT: Mary Brandenberger

U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services releases Ferguson After-Action report

Report focuses on police response to demonstrations following the shooting death of Michael Brown

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services today released its after action report on the regional law enforcement response to the demonstrations, protests and rioting that occurred during the 17 days following the shooting of Michael Brown.

The COPS Office and its technical assistance provider, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, conducted the independent and thorough assessment at the request of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, with the support and cooperation of former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, former Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Ronald Replogle, and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Samuel Dotson.

“The findings and lessons learned outlined in the after action report should serve as a blueprint for the more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis. “I applaud all of the police agencies that voluntarily participated in this important process.”

The goal of the assessment was to examine the police response to the mass gatherings, identify significant findings about critical decisions and practices, and develop lessons learned that law enforcement agencies nationwide can use to help build trust, improve relationships, and protect civil rights in the communities they serve.

The assessment team identified 48 findings and developed 113 lessons learned. Key findings in the report include inconsistent leadership and coordination in the direction, incident management and tactical orders; a poor relationship between law enforcement and segments of the community; a reactive police response that failed to establish a strategic approach to effectively mitigate issues as they arose; inadequate communications and information sharing; ineffective and inappropriate strategies and tactics used; and a lack of consistency in the law enforcement response, exacerbated by the sheer number of smaller municipal law enforcement agencies involved in the response, each with disparate missions, policies, training, and cultures. The strategies and tactics used to control crowds – including dispersing crowds – were in some cases ineffective and unconstitutional.

The size and duration of the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo. following the death of Michael Brown posed unique challenges to the law enforcement agencies involved. In addition, there are a number of lessons for how law enforcement agencies can assist their officers in receiving the physical and emotional support and resources necessary to conduct their job in both an effective and safe manner.

The COPS Office funds the Critical Response Initiative, which provides targeted technical assistance to law enforcement agencies that encounter incidents, events or sensitive challenges. The Critical Response Initiative is highly customizable and provides flexible assistance to law enforcement agencies in a variety of ways, including peer-to-peer exchanges, strategic planning development, targeted in-depth review, analysis, recommendations and facilitated conversations.

The report, After-Action Assessment of the Police Response to the August 2014 Demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, can be found here:

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1995, COPS has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 126,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance. For additional information about COPS Office, please visit