Ferguson PD Probe To Conclude In Days, Black Lawmakers Say

The Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson Police Department should conclude "within a few days," members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Tuesday after meeting with President Obama.

"The DOJ investigation is ongoing and should be completed within a few days, and we can see the report and draw our own conclusions from that report," CBC chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said after the meeting.

The federal government has been examining the police department in the aftermath of the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, which sparked mass protests and accusations of racial profiling.

The Justice Department is weighing allegations of civil rights violations against both Darren Wilson, the officer involved in Brown's death, and the police department as a whole. Investigators are looking at if there exists evidence the Ferguson police engaged in systematic discriminatory traffic stops and excessive use of force.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said he would like to see the review completed before he leaves office. The Senate is currently working through the confirmation process for Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney picked by Obama to replace Holder.

Prosecutors are unlikely to bring charges against Wilson, law enforcement sources have told the New York Times and Associated Press. But less clear is whether the Justice Department will find the police department — a largely white force in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb — at fault.

Black lawmakers said they also discussed broader criminal justice reform efforts with Obama, as well as the status of Lynch's nomination.

Separately, they urged Obama to use his executive authorities to target federal dollars to counties that had shown persistent signs of poverty, and to increase federal funding for historically black colleges and universities. 

Although the economy has recovered overall, "black America continues to be in a state of emergency," Butterfield said.

The discussion did not touch on the upcoming speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or the drafting of an authorization for use of military force to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But Obama did press lawmakers to rally around his request for fast track authority on trade, which would allow him to more easily negotiate a pair of major trade deals.

"We did talk about trade, you know the president wouldn't allow us to leave the West Wing without having that conversation," Butterfield said.

He added that CBC members were looking for "creative ways" to attach a jobs program for the unemployed or underemployed to any trade deal.

"A good trade agreement ought to provide jobs for American workers," he said.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who led the trade discussion during the meeting with Obama, said the group was looking for ways "to make certain all Americans would be educated" to "meet the challenges of any trade agreement."