Ferguson efforts to mend community-police relations

After the resignation of police officer Darren Wilson from his position at the Ferguson Police Department, the city is taking steps to improve the relationship between the department and Ferguson residents, the mayor told CNN in a press conference.

Mayor James Knowles announced a new weekly task force that will consist of residents, businesses and law enforcement personnel that will review complaints to include citizen input in police department policy and procedures.

“Our number one goal is to bring together the police department and our community,” Knowles said.

The task force is one of the first in the region.

The first initiative Knowles announced is the Police Explorer Program, which is aimed at connecting the police department with city youth. The program will begin in the fall of next year.

The last of the initiatives is a scholarship program with Ferguson public high schools set to recruit African American students for the Ferguson police academy. The mayor said the scholarships would be repaid with a two-year employment commitment at the police department.

“This initiative is a proactive step in making the department more reflective of the demographics of our community,” Knowles said.

The police department will also pass an ordinance in 2015 that will increase a monthly living stipend of $100 to $300 for officers who live in Ferguson.

Darren Wilson will not receive severance payment for giving up his position, according to Knowles.

Wilson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his resignation was voluntary after the Ferguson Police Department received threats of violence if it chose to continue his employment, CNN originally reported.

The officer, who was not indicted last week for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, told the Post-Dispatch that he isn’t willing to let others get hurt because of him.